Why Selling this Fall May Be Your Best Move

If you’re thinking about moving, selling your house this fall might be the way to go. Here are four highlights in the housing market that may make your decision to sell this fall an easy one.

1. Buyers Are Actively in the Market

ShowingTime, a leading real estate showing software and market stat service provider, just reported that buyer traffic jumped 60.7% compared to this time last year. That’s a huge increase.

It’s clear that buyers are ready, willing, and able to purchase – and they’re in the market right now. In many regions of the country, multiple buyers are entering bidding wars to compete for the home they want. Take advantage of the buyer activity currently in the market so you can sell your house in the most favorable terms.

2. There Are Not Enough Homes for Sale

In the latest Existing Home Sales Report, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) announced that there were only 1.49 million units available for sale. That number was down 18.6% from one year ago. This means in the majority of the country, there aren’t enough homes for sale to satisfy the number of buyers.

Due to the health crisis, many homeowners were reluctant to list their homes earlier this year. That will change as the economy continues to recover. The choices buyers have will increase going into the new year. Don’t wait until additional sellers come to market before you decide to make a move.

3. The Process Is Going Quickly

Today’s ultra-competitive environment has forced buyers to do all they can to stand out from the crowd, including getting pre-approved for their mortgage financing. This makes the entire selling process much faster and simpler, as buyers know exactly what they can afford before shopping for a home. According to the latest Origination Insights Report from Ellie Mae, the time needed to close a loan is just 49 days.

4. There May Never Be a More Important Time to Move

You’ve likely spent much of the last six months in your current home. Perhaps you now realize how small it is, and you need more space. If you’re working from home, your children are doing virtual school, or you just need more space, your current floor plan may not work for your family’s changing needs.

Homebuilders are beginning to build houses again, so you can choose the exact floor plan to match what your family needs, and you can make sure the outdoor space is what you want too.

Bottom Line

The housing market is prime for sellers right now, so reach out to a local real estate professional to get the process started this fall. If the timing is right for you and your family, the market is calling your name.

Please contact one of our Sales Associates today or call our Bay Harbor office (231-439-2000) or Harbor Springs office (231-526-9889) today and we would be excited to put the Sotheby’s brand to work for you and your property!

Michigan’s Up North cottage market is red-hot amid pandemic, recession

JC Reindl

Detroit Free Press

The coronavirus crisis and its related recession have yet to cool Michigan’s Up North vacation home market, which real estate agents say is seeing strong interest from prospective buyers and sale prices up as much as 10% from a year ago in some areas.

It’s become a red-hot market this summer, and not just despite COVID-19, but perhaps because of it.

A number of recent buyers had been thinking of purchasing a vacation or second home property, and while cooped up during this spring’s pandemic lockdowns, decided to go forward with it as soon as restrictions eased, agents say.

These buyers seem to be minimally affected by the virus-induced recession — at least so far.

“A lot of people I think just did soul searching, and decided to move their life plans up and make it work,” said Realtor Dee-Dee Burch with Real Estate One in Traverse City, where the market has been busier since mid-May than she can ever recall.

Other buyers realized during the pandemic that they could perform more remote work for their job, giving them more time to spend at a second home. Still others decided that they simply want to enjoy their retirement years Up North.

The high water levels this year on the Great Lakes and inland lakes haven’t had much of a negative effect on vacation home sales and pricing, agents say.

More:Record-high Michigan water levels are a nightmare for homeowners, state

“People are thinking, ‘Hey, if we can buy a place and work from home with our phone and computer, what the heck. It‘s a better lifestyle up here and we can worry less,’ ” said Pat O’Brien of Pat O’Brien and Associates, who specializes in Lake Charlevoix properties.

This resilience in demand and prices is a striking contrast to what happened during last decade’s recession, when properties in some Up North destinations lost roughly 30% of their value and sold at considerable discounts for years.

The current dynamics also apply to some vacation hot spots in southwest Michigan such a Saugatuck, as well as in the Thumb.

“There are more people who are looking to relocate and buy cottages than we’ve seen in a long time,” said Casey Bruce, associate broker/owner with Osentoski Realty Co. in the Thumb. “I have one gentleman who bought a place who had three vacations canceled this year, so he said ‘I want a cottage.’ ”

Prices up in Gaylord 

In the Gaylord area, demand is very strong and supply is very tight, and sale prices for some lakefront houses are up 10% to as much as 15% from a year ago, according to Mike Perdue, a broker/owner with the Smith Realty Group.

A typical cottage or second home is now going for about $180,000 to $300,000.

“One thing we’re seeing go quick is any type of cottage or home that is modernized, or has a nice touch and updates to it,” he said. “Those are going very quickly, at or above asking price.”

Perdue said some recent buyers plan to start using their new house for vacations, and later treat it as more of a permanent residence once they retire.

Donna and Don Theisen were astonished by the competition they encountered this spring for lakefront houses in Gaylord.

The retired couple once owned a cottage in the area, but sold it several years ago to be closer to family in Ann Arbor. Yet they discovered they missed Up North and decided to return.

When hunting for properties, they had their eyes set on a house on Otsego Lake in Gaylord. The made a strong offer, but it wasn’t enough. The house sold to someone else for about $475,000.

“We offered over asking price — cash — and we were outbid,” Donna Theisen said. “It surprised me very much … and the price was hefty for that house, too.”

The Theisens, working with an agent from Berkshire Hathaway Home Services, eventually found a four-bedroom log home on nearby O’Rourke Lake that they liked, and the seller accepted their offer.

“When something comes up, at least this year, you’d better jump on it,” Donna Theisen said.

Prices strong in Charlevoix

In the Charlevoix area, demand is strong and prices are up 5% to 10% from a year ago, “and we may even move that needle a little more by the end of the year,” said Rik Lobenherz, a broker/owner of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices in Charlevoix.

Several recent buyers said they had been considering getting a vacation home within the next three to five years or so, but the pandemic and the lockdowns moved up their timelines.

“The common phrase is ‘pull the trigger’ on what our plans have been,” Lobenherz said. “Some of them are still working, but they feel they can work from anywhere. And so we’re extremely busy in certain segments of the market and getting multiple offers on our properties.”

He added: “We haven’t seen that in a long time, frankly.”

Agents have observed the same trends in the Petoskey area, where prices also are up roughly 5% to 10% from last summer.

“If they were thinking of buying now and just using it as a vacation home, now they’re maybe moving that forward and using it as a permanent home sooner than they expected,” said David Shuman, principal broker with Bay North Realty in Petoskey.

The pandemic even prompted a few people to buy cottages or property on isolated Beaver Island in Lake Michigan, which is about 27 miles northwest of Charlevoix and accessible only by ferry or airplane. Prices for houses on the island generally start at about $140,000.

“What we’re seeing is people wanting to get out of the more populated areas and into more sparsely populated areas,” Lobenherz said. “We have an office on Beaver Island and we’re getting calls from people all over the country who’ve never been there before wanting information — ‘Tell us about this Beaver Island.’”

Record Breaking Season for Restaurants in Northern Michigan

By Stacey Brugeman, Detroit.Eater.com

For generations, families have journeyed to northern Michigan to escape the summer heat. In the late 1800s, residents of Detroit, Chicago, Cincinnati, and beyond arrived by lake steamer or rail to early enclaves like Wequetonsing, Bay View, and Northport Point. This summer saw the same influx of visitors, but instead of escaping the heat, they were looking for respite from a pandemic. Despite COVID-19, or likely because of it, travelers came to northern Michigan in record numbers in 2020. Before the pandemic, area restaurants — which make a significant portion of their annual revenue during the weeks between Memorial Day and Labor Day — would have celebrated such a spike. This year, however, the crowds were a mixed blessing.

Over the past few months, beaches were adorned with just-bought sun tents. Trailhead parking lots were jammed with out-of-state plates. Boat ramps were launching points for kayaks with the tags still on. Newly installed bike racks were instantly full. In fact, the National Park Service tells Eater that Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore on Lake Michigan saw a record number of visitors this summer. Park visitation was up 19 percent in July and 23 percent in August over those same months last year. Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore on Lake Superior may break 1 million guests this year: The park has seen 827,752 visitors to date, up from 652,013 visitors at this point last year. Northern Michigan’s inland lakes were just as busy. The Narrows Yacht Club — which sells marine gas, rents boats, and offers a few lodging options on Lake Leelanau — reports that business was up 20 percent this summer over last.

In this era of remote work, families that previously spent a few days vacationing in northern Michigan were in some cases here for an entire month — or longer. The Traverse Area Association of Realtors saw a 7 percent increase in closings on single-family homes in August 2020 versus the same month in 2019. The previous year-over-year increase was only half of that. “I was kind of blown away by how busy we’ve been this summer,” Adam McMarlin of Wren in Suttons Bay tells Eater.

In late May, just in time for Memorial Day weekend, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer gave the green light for Up North restaurants to reopen, but they had to scale back to 50 percent capacity with tables at least six feet apart. Food supply chains were disrupted. Staffing, a perennial challenge in seasonal locales, was at an all-time low. And yet for those who adapted, this summer was more profitable than many expected.

Norman Dillard, food and beverage director for Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island, had a successful summer. Despite not having any convention business and other large group events this year, “we saw record numbers,” Dillard says, noting that several restaurants broke all-time records for volume. One of the restaurants he oversees, the Gate House, had lines to get in all day long and was up 20 percent over the same peak weeks last year.

Others experienced a similar spike in business. Northport’s New Bohemian Cafe was up 20 percent for the month of August over the same month last year, owner Kevin Murphy says. Bubbie’s Bagels in Traverse City, which opened a month before the spring shutdown, surpassed its own projections for the summer. Owner Sam Brickman says there were weeks where he ended up doing more than double the sales predicted in his business plan. “I thought we would do 300 or 400 bagels a day,” he recalls. “By week three we were up to 1,000 bagels a day.”

Dillard, who is black and bald, stands on a restaurant patio in his jacket and tie.
Norman Dillard, vice president of food and beverage at Grand Hotel, added heaters and all-weather chandeliers to a previously underutilized patio at Woods Restaurant on Mackinac Island.
 Grand Hotel [Courtesy photo]

Despite the sweeping cancellation of Fourth of July parades, firework displays, and major events such as the National Cherry Festival and the Traverse City Film Festival, sales were up for some businesses along Traverse City’s Front Street, a location that can count on crowds during these annual gatherings. “We met and exceeded [sales] during both of those weeks,” says Mama Lu’s Adrienne Brunette of the July dates when those popular festivals would have taken place.

Even the many establishments that saw the anticipated decline in revenue during this COVID summer admit that sales went much better than they had expected. Mike LaMotte, owner of Fitzgerald’s, a remote restaurant and inn with sunset views of Lake Superior on the Keweenaw Peninsula, was comfortable with the 15 to 20 percent reduction in revenue this summer over last. “Luckily, it turned out,” he says.

At Grand Hotel’s Woods Restaurant, Dillard and his team also turned to the outdoors. For relief from COVID-19 capacity restrictions, the restaurant took advantage of an “underutilized” patio. “We put heaters and all-weather chandeliers out back and were able to gain all of the seats we lost inside,” he says. As a result, the Tudor mansion in the island’s wooded interior saw a 15 to 20 percent revenue increase in July and August 2020 over those same months in 2019.

Two customers stand together in front of an open window wearing masks and holding up their takeout boxes.
Customers grab dinner at Fitzgerald’s, which has yet to reopen its dining room and only offered lakeside takeout this summer.
 Mike LaMotte for Fitzgerald’s Hotel & Restaurant

Todd Chinnock, of Pour Kitchen & Bar and Tap 30 Pourhouse in Petoskey, also benefited from summer 2020 traffic. “In terms of sales, we broke all of our records,” Chinnock says of Pour. “It was crazy busy.” At Tap 30, he built a deck over two parking spaces that the city provided, adding 30 seats. “That really saved Tap 30,” Chinnock says.

Given their access to such open-air solutions, many restaurants in the region chose not to use their indoor spaces at all, relying solely on outdoor dining. Rock’s Landing on Crystal Lake, the Bluebird Restaurant & Tavern in Leland, New Bohemian, Fitzgerald’s, and countless others put tables in their previously unused lawn, erected enormous 40-by-60-foot tents, and built decks on top of what used to be landlord parking to get the most out of the outdoors. Fitzgerald’s LaMotte felt outdoor dining was the safest choice for his team — which includes a 66-year-old server and his health-compromised dad. “I’m not going to try to make more money rolling the dice on people’s health,” says LaMotte. “I’m not a scientist. I’m not an epidemiologist… but I’d feel terrible about getting someone sick.”

Adding open-air seats wasn’t the only thing area restaurant owners did to survive their critical summer season. To make the most of an exceptionally short tourism window that is bookended by months of cold, dark days north of the 45th parallel, many establishments increased their catering or takeout presence. For Mama Lu’s, 50 percent of summer 2020’s revenue came from in-house dining, 25 percent came from takeout, and another 25 percent came from catering. The Riverside Inn dedicated one of its three boat dock spaces entirely to carryout customers and added a “boater box” — a collection of bruschetta, charcuterie, and pickled vegetables — and to-go cocktails to its menu.

It didn’t hurt that per-person spending was reportedly up. McMarlin reports that Wren’s per-guest average was $20 to $25 greater this summer than in the past. “I think after being cooped up for 11 weeks people came out and wanted to spend money. People were so happy to be able to do something that resembles normal,” the chef says.

Doug Kosch, proprietor of Boathouse Restaurant, a white-tablecloth dining room on the Old Mission Peninsula, didn’t have to speculate about what was driving customers to dine at his business. They told him. “I cannot even tell you how many times I’ve heard, ‘This is our first night out since lockdown,’” Kosch says. “For people visiting from out of the area, our little bubble felt as normal as anywhere else, so people felt happier and more generous.”

But things didn’t go as well everywhere. At the Cooks’ House, despite putting up a tent to add seats, chef-owner Eric Patterson is still feeling the hit his restaurant took during the spring shutdown. “Our yearly numbers are not good,” Patterson says.

For those who had no outdoor space in which to expand at all, the numbers are especially alarming. Trattoria Stella — a 15-year darling of the Traverse City restaurant community — was down 60 percent this summer. In order to accomplish true social distancing in the historic, subterranean space, the restaurant operated with only 35 percent of the seats it had pre-pandemic. In June, owner Amanda Danielson filed an application with the state of Michigan to expand the restaurant’s seating into an interior corridor next to Stella’s existing space, but it still hasn’t been approved. “I wish the state would get out of the way and let us expand our dining room,” she says. “It would have meant six figures for our business this year.”

Danielson is among many industry leaders nationwide who are advocating for the national Restaurants Act, which is slated for review by the House Committee on Financial Services this week. Stella’s sister restaurant, the Franklin, shuttered this year. Like Little Bohemia, also in Traverse City; Gold Baby Biscuits in Suttons Bay; and Kolu’s in Elk Rapids, Danielson never reopened her downtown location following the spring lockdown — a decision she says was in part due to staffing shortages.

Other employees (or their parents) were scared to return. This included many J1 or H2-B visa employees — non-immigrant workers who come to the U.S. on a temporary basis to fill staffing voids in seasonal tourism hotspots. This year, those candidates were either uninterested or unable to come to the U.S.

Before the pandemic, Skip Telgard, whose family has owned Leland’s Bluebird for more than 90 years, had hired 15 students to come to Michigan from abroad in 2020. Only one ultimately made the journey. “Some kids dropped out of the program,” Telgard says. “We are the most COVID-affected country in the world, so some of the students were a little bit reluctant.” Telgard, who employs 60 staff members in a normal summer, was limited to just 25 employees this season. This meant closing his restaurant — historically open seven days a week — on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Legs Inn in Cross Village was closed on Mondays and Tuesdays for the same reason. Multiple restaurant owners told Eater that, especially this summer, weekdays were every bit as profitable as weekends in this region. Those forced to close for two days were missing out on some 30 percent of potential revenue. “You don’t want to close a single day in July or August,” Telgard says, yet he did it for his staff. “We just had to make sure that we didn’t burn people out.”

Telgard also had to walk away from his historically strong late-night business, closing at 9 p.m. or 10 p.m. each evening instead of doing last call at 1:30 a.m. “Nothing good happens after 10 p.m., especially when you combine drinking and a pandemic,” echoed Tina Schuett of Rare Bird Brewpub in Traverse City, who made a similar choice to cut back hours. Fortunately, with the addition of an outdoor tent, she still managed to “hit almost the same numbers” as summer 2019.

And therein lies the paradox of this extraordinary summer in northern Michigan. While some restaurant owners managed to make it work, others seem to rightly ask themselves under what terms do they want to make it work. Unfortunately, social media was filled with stories of customer behavior that felt as unsettling as the pandemic itself. Young hostesses were berated for asking guests to put masks on. Customers argued with managers about empty, unstaffed tables. Groups of six wandered in at 7 o’clock demanding a table in a dining room that had been reduced by half. Guests cursed at employees for not opening their interior dining rooms. Some staff members were even spit on. As a result, businesses started closing on certain days of the week for the sole purpose of giving their staff a break from being treated poorly. “‘Do you really think a mask is going to help?’” Wren’s McMarlin remembers one customer asking him. “It doesn’t matter what I think. These are the rules, and if you want to be here and I want to operate, you have to wear a mask,” the chef recalls thinking.

Chefs across the country are asking themselves what this “Great Pause” is teaching us about the way restaurants are structured to begin with, and remote northern Michigan is no different. “The American restaurant industry is a really unhealthy thing that is due for some major overhaul,” New Bohemian’s Murphy says of a sector he feels has been making unsustainable decisions for 50 years. “We shouldn’t do things that are not profitable.”

Area restaurants are in the throes of leaf-peeping season, also an important money-maker for northern Michigan, but when the patio heaters have been shut off and the snow starts to fly, these businesses seem eager to reassess.

Boathouse ceased its lunch service this summer due to staffing shortages, and may not bring that mealtime back. Grand Hotel, which employed some 600 people this summer but has yet to have one single positive COVID-19 test since opening its doors for the season, plans to keep all of the cleaning and sanitizing measures it added this year. Wren may close for portions of the winter so that employees can spend time with their families, which they enjoyed during the spring lockdown. New Bohemian is contemplating a weekends-only approach after the fall season so that its team can take time to manage online learning for their kids. Rare Bird plans to make the outdoor space it added a permanent part of its summertime lineup. Mama Lu’s turned to compostable plates, silverware, napkins, and cups (all of which were easier to find than a dishwasher) and may not go back. And when Fitzgerald’s reopens its dining room, it will no longer be filled to the brim. “We would try to pack as many damn bodies as we could in the summertime,” LaMotte says. “That’s going to change.”

Numerous people told Eater that with scaled-back, streamlined menus and fewer seats to serve, they were more proud of their offerings than ever before. “I think the food we’ve been serving is the best food we’ve ever made,” LaMotte says.

McMarlin agrees that the spring gap he and his team took has been a positive effect of the pandemic. “Coming back from the shutdown, we came back better than ever,” he says. “We are just going to embrace being small and being able to take breaks.” In this highly seasonal location, long sought out as a place to slow down, less, indeed, may be more.

The Cover is Not the Book | 5 Homes with Handsome Libraries

Nothing quite matches the experience of relaxing with a good book. From formal and wood-clad to modern and creatively illuminated, these five libraries are distinctive places to display and enjoy a collection of favored tomes.

Vintage Hollywood Glamour

Los Angeles, California | Jacqueline TagerSotheby’s International Realty – Los Feliz Brokerage

Recalling a manor in the English countryside, this handsome four-bedroom Tudor-style residence dates to the days of Hollywood’s golden era and captures its glamorous style. The living room doubles as a library with its striking illuminated bookshelves custom-designed by the renowned Project Room design studio. Beyond are an owner’s sanctuary, a formal dining room, a cook’s kitchen, and a den with French doors leading to the inviting pool, spa, and emerald lawn. The versatile guesthouse serves as an office and screening room.


Beverly Hills, California | Justin MandileSotheby’s International Realty – Beverly Hills Brokerage

Generous in charm and space, this classical Beverly Hills estate boasts majestic architecture and details throughout. Highlights include three bedroom suites, formal living and dining rooms, a well-appointed kitchen and breakfast room, and a family room opening through French doors open to the lush backyard, an enticing pool and spa, and a trellised outdoor dining area. The family room is overlooked by a delightful library loft a full wall of built-in bookshelves. The property also features a 1920s brick “guard house.”

Normandy on the Lake

Houston, Texas | Patti PrasherMartha Turner Sotheby’s International Realty 

On the banks of Alkire Lake, this six-bedroom residence designed by Houston architect Robert Dame is replete with Old World finery. Beyond timeless turrets and a classic mansard roofline are rooms filled with carefully selected and crafted details, including arched doors and windows, distinctive ceiling and wall treatments, and rich millwork. Among the exceptional spaces are an acoustically tuned “opera room,” a wine cellar, a covered patio with a stone fireplace, and a two-story circular study with an upper-level library boasting mahogany shelves.

Timeless Park Avenue Treasure

New York, New York | Serena BoardmanSotheby’s International Realty – East Side Manhattan Brokerage

Nearly every room of this elegant five-bedroom Park Avenue home in a desirable prewar cooperative enjoys an open view of the city. Thoughtful and versatile, the floor plan was designed to make entertaining and day-to-day living effortless, with adjoining formal living and dining spaces and a sleek, spacious kitchen. Behind double wood doors off the entry gallery—and adjacent to the sophisticated living room—the library features warm wood paneling, comfortable carpeting, and generous built-in bookshelves.

Monterra Manor

Monterey, California | Jeannie FrommSotheby’s International Realty – Carmel Rancho Brokerage

Dramatic architectural details distinguish this magnificent four-bedroom home, sited on 2.32 acres in Monterey. The well-designed floor plan features living and entertaining spaces on the main level: a living room with interior balconies, a formal dining room, a kitchen with butler’s and walk-in pantries, a wine cellar, and a sunlit breakfast room. The library boasts bookshelves accented by striking gothic arches that are mirrored in the room’s leaded-glass windows. On the second level, two guest suites are joined by a spacious game and media room.

Mix of Housing Supply, Buyer Demand Enters Uncharted Territory Share

August 28, 2020 (Source: Realtor.com)

National housing inventory has plunged 37% year over year, while buyers’ heightened demand is creating bidding wars and a rapid pace of sales, realtor.com® reports in its latest Weekly Recovery Report.

Homes are selling nine days faster than a year ago, even as prices escalate, realtor.com® reports. The National Association of REALTORS® reported Thursday that contract signings in July jumped 15.5% above a year ago. NAR’s Chief Economist Lawrence Yun says sales show no signs of slowing.

“There’s a record level of buyers competing in the housing market right now,” says Javier Vivas, director of economic research at realtor.com®. “In a typical year, buyer-seller activity would be dwindling down heading into Labor Day, but 2020 has been nothing short of abnormal. It may be late August, but we’re in the thick of the home buying season, with busy open houses, multiple offers, and even bidding wars becoming the common theme in many markets. First-time home buyers face the biggest hurdles and have to lean on financing to keep their home ownership dreams alive.”

Realtor.com®’s Housing Market Recovery Index reached 106.6 nationwide for the week ending Aug. 22, which is 6.6 points above its pre-pandemic baseline of January 2020. The housing demand component of the index, which is measured by growth in search traffic, is also above the recovery baseline at 124.1, its highest level since March. The housing supply component, not he other hand, measured by new listing growth fell to 95.5.

Meanwhile, home prices continue to accelerate. Median listing prices increased 10.3% over last year, the fastest pace of growth since January 2018, realtor.com® reports. The report calls this a “remarkable feat considering the economic backdrop of a recession and continuing job losses. Consistently rising home price growth is the market’s answer to balancing the insufficient availability of homes for sale against a steady stream of home buyers.”

Bay Harbor Yacht Club – A Dedication for Excellence

When you purchase property in Bay Harbor, you are experience a brand new lifestyle. Becoming a member of the Yacht Club is a social experience enjoyed by family and friends alike.  Bay Harbor Yacht Club is a private club located on Lake Michigan’s Little Traverse Bay near Petoskey, Charlevoix and Harbor Springs. Bay Harbor Lake is a great destination for your water activities.

Reserved for Bay Harbor property owners. Regular members and their qualified dependents, including children under the age of 24, enjoy full, year-round access to all BHYC amenities, programs, activities and events. Only one membership is required for residents who own multiple Bay Harbor properties. Adult children and grandchildren ages 24 and above are eligible for a Legacy Membership.

Click here to watch Bay Harbor Yacht Club video.  It’s the Place to Be!

Northern Michigan Real Estate Very Optimisic

It’s hard to believe we are heading into mid-July and just three short months ago, real estate was on “stand-by” due to the state of Michigan’s “stay at home” order as part of the Covid-19 pandemic response. It was a strange time for all of us. We learned about ZOOM very quickly to communicate, were home-schooling our children while trying to keep our spirits up and wondering what our year will look like in the real estate market. Fast forward to July, and we have seen a boom in real estate in northern Michigan of magnitude proportions. As soon as some of the restrictions were lifted in our part of the state, the inquiries came rolling in – mostly from many who wanted out of the larger cities and were looking for a safer environment, with smaller populations and fresher air, recreational lakes and a simpler lifestyle. The trend, because of this outbreak, seems to be trying to escape the metropolitan life, and find a place with room to roam.

As June approached, and the warmer weather was setting in, a slight increase one week, led to calls and emails and texts the next…and the offers and purchase agreements started rolling in. Each day, there were 2 or 3 more. The increase in demand was steady and by July, our Sales Agents had some of the busiest days they have had in many years. The situation in the country shed light on the fact to many that working from home might just be the “new normal”, leaving the hustle and bustle and the high-rise city office life in the rear view mirror.

We have all heard before that northern Michigan is the place to be. We have many “seasonal” residents here with their summer homes and cottages dotted along miles of inland lakes and our beautiful Little Traverse Bay. The population literally triples during mid-June to mid-August. The resort towns become a popular destination for the summer folks and visitors alike, and they all fall in love with it. They all pick up the real estate magazines and flip through them dreaming of finding that sweet summer home to bring extended family up to – to splash in the water, have large bonfires, play cards and watch the glorious sunsets.

So our team in March at our first ZOOM meeting to our team today? It’s like the flood gates have opened. We don’t really believe there is much end in sight, and the remainder of 2020 for real estate in northern Michigan looks very optimistic, and our team is excited to assist in any way they can.

Hopeful News from the Real Estate World

Excerpt from a post by Fox Business 

The stigma that has been historically associated with a home’s “days on market,” as it relates to home sales is soon to be a thing of the past.

The real estate market is definitely not operating in a traditional manner during the coronovirus pandemic, but real estate professionals have been working behind the scenes to ensure that the industry remains a safe haven amidst an upside-down world.

There are still an incredibly large amount of unknowns out there, but we are doing our best to operate after the shocking developments that came in March.

For people who have been considering selling, it might not be necessary to wait. One benefit of Americans being home all day is that they are online all day long. ALL DAY.

Eventually, we will all find a way to a real estate site, or at least search homes on Instagram. It’s inevitable, kind of like those cookies in your pantry are going to get eaten by the time you’re done reading this article.

Real estate professionals are working tirelessly behind the scenes to keep up their social media presence and to strengthen their strategies. Platforms like YouTube, Zoom, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are making it easy for sellers to remain connected with prospective buyers.

We are in the fishing business and the most successful agents are the ones that are casting the widest nets.

The most unconventional aspect of this new age real estate industry is the fact that touring homes is currently impossible, as it should be.

Prospective buyers will most likely remain hesitant to buy before they can physically tour a home but we can all pivot and redefine the way we work.

The minute that people are legally allowed to take a physical tour, the market is going to boom. It’s like when the new iPhone comes out.  People will be lined up at the doors of those homes they have obsessed over for months.

In the meantime, real estate professionals are utilizing virtual tours to keep buyers excited, and it is working, and relationships are getting back to the core — the heart.

The market varies from city to city. For example, the Manhattan real estate marketing came to a screeching halt. Sudden halts like this, especially for a big city, are incredibly rare. Historically, it took about a year to recover.

For the cities that have not yet reached a screeching halt, real estate professionals are placing all of the online strategies into an extra high gear, in order to prevent that from happening.

We are entering what is usually the busiest season of real estate that usually lasts through the end of the summer. I am confident that the busy season will last through the fall, and possibly through the winter.

Momentum is building, so there is no need to fear putting your home on the market. Now is our chance to build and maintain confidence in the real estate market, because as soon as our world begins to shift back into normalcy, the market will be at its height.

We’ve all heard this a million times over, but right now, it’s truer than ever — home is where the heart is. You may not love where you currently are, but we know you love who you’re currently with. Get online, shop for your new forever place, and get excited about something that’s going to be there when this nightmare ends.

In the meantime, stay home, technology has us covered.


Welcome HOME to Northern Michigan

Our homes are that special place that we gather – making sweet memories with our families. The birthday parties, bringing the new puppy home, remodeling that 70’s kitchen – learning to ride a bike for the first time in the driveway. So many endless memories. A home is sacred. For those fortunate enough to live or have a second home in northern Michigan, there is nothing really better. We enjoy clean air, beautiful clear waters of our inland lakes and Grand Traverse Bay. The resort towns of Petoskey, Harbor Springs, Charlevoix, Boyne City and the Village at Walloon have a charm all their own. It’s a more laid back simple life, away from the hustle and bustle of the big cities. It’s an escape and a warm feeling to be “up north”.

Bay Harbor is a unique resort community set along five miles of Lake Michigan, featuring a charming Village with shops, restaurants, specialty services including a salon, Pilates studio, coffee house music venue and a Performing Arts Center. Above the shops and restaurants is a condo hotel with rooms, master suites and penthouses for a wonderful stay in the heart of Bay Harbor. Bay Harbor Lake Marina is a deep water protected harbor which is a fabulous place for a seasonal slip for your boat 30′ and up. Property owners in Bay Harbor enjoy spending time at the Yacht Club, playing a round of golf at the Bay Harbor Golf Club or driving through the community to see friends on their GEM cars. There is nothing else really like the Bay Harbor community unless you experience it for yourself. And you should.

For those wanting to venture even more “off the grid”, the Upper Peninsula has some amazing, remote areas in which you can create your very own piece of paradise. It’s certainly a way of life that hasn’t changed much in the last 50 years. Miles of untouched land and landscape, and tiny towns straight out of “Northern Exposure”. There is a simplicity to the Upper Peninsula and many treasures to discover and adventures to seek out.

Harbor Sotheby’s International Realty has a property in northern Michigan that will fit all of your needs. Our professional sales agents will work with you personally and dive into everything you want in your next northern Michigan home. It’s not just a place to RESIDE, but a lifestyle we sell at Harbor Sotheby’s International Realty. A lifestyle for you and your families to start making those memories that will forever be branded on your heart.

Three Reasons Why This Is Not a Housing Crisis

In times of uncertainty, one of the best things we can do to ease our fears is to educate ourselves with research, facts, and data. Digging into past experiences by reviewing historical trends and understanding the peaks and valleys of what’s come before us is one of the many ways we can confidently evaluate any situation. With concerns of a global recession on everyone’s minds today, it’s important to take an objective look at what has transpired over the years and how the housing market has successfully weathered these storms.

1. The Market Today Is Vastly Different from 2008

We all remember 2008. This is not 2008. Today’s market conditions are far from the time when housing was a key factor that triggered a recession. From easy-to-access mortgages to skyrocketing home price appreciation, a surplus of inventory, excessive equity-tapping, and more – we’re not where we were 12 years ago. None of those factors are in play today. Rest assured, housing is not a catalyst that could spiral us back to that time or place.

According to Danielle Hale, Chief Economist at Realtor.com, if there is a recession:

“It will be different than the Great Recession. Things unraveled pretty quickly, and then the recovery was pretty slow. I would expect this to be milder. There’s no dysfunction in the banking system, we don’t have many households who are over-leveraged with their mortgage payments and are potentially in trouble.”

In addition, the Goldman Sachs GDP Forecast released this week indicates that although there is no growth anticipated immediately, gains are forecasted heading into the second half of this year and getting even stronger in early 2021.Three Reasons Why This Is Not a Housing Crisis | Simplifying The MarketBoth of these expert sources indicate this is a momentary event in time, not a collapse of the financial industry. It is a drop that will rebound quickly, a stark difference to the crash of 2008 that failed to get back to a sense of normal for almost four years. Although it poses plenty of near-term financial challenges, a potential recession this year is not a repeat of the long-term housing market crash we remember all too well.

2. A Recession Does Not Equal a Housing Crisis

Next, take a look at the past five recessions in U.S. history. Home values actually appreciated in three of them. It is true that they sank by almost 20% during the last recession, but as we’ve identified above, 2008 presented different circumstances. In the four previous recessions, home values depreciated only once (by less than 2%). In the other three, residential real estate values increased by 3.5%, 6.1%, and 6.6% (see below):Three Reasons Why This Is Not a Housing Crisis | Simplifying The Market

3. We Can Be Confident About What We Know

Concerns about the global impact COVID-19 will have on the economy are real. And they’re scary, as the health and wellness of our friends, families, and loved ones are high on everyone’s emotional radar.

According to Bloomberg,

“Several economists made clear that the extent of the economic wreckage will depend on factors such as how long the virus lasts, whether governments will loosen fiscal policy enough and can markets avoid freezing up.”

That said, we can be confident that, while we don’t know the exact impact the virus will have on the housing market, we do know that housing isn’t the driver.

The reasons we move – marriage, children, job changes, retirement, etc. – are steadfast parts of life. As noted in a recent piece in the New York Times, “Everyone needs someplace to live.” That won’t change.

Bottom Line

Concerns about a recession are real, but housing isn’t the driver. If you have questions about what it means for your family’s homebuying or selling plans, let’s connect to discuss your needs.