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Who’s Buying in Traverse City? A Snapshot of Buyer Activity – Summer 2020

Take a second and think through some things that might, hypothetically, slow down a real estate market. No, seriously, we’ll wait. 

If you’re like most people, you probably came up with things like, major economic uncertainty, a fundamental shift in the way that people work, or, oh I don’t know, a global pandemic? 

All of that makes a lot of sense, but here in northern Michigan (as well as many other places across our state and country), these factors are not slowing down the real estate market at all. In fact, in many instances, it seems to be speeding it up. 

If you read the blog post from last week (Numbers Don’t Lie: The Northern Michigan Real Estate Market is Actually Stronger This Summer Than in 2019), you know that not only is the market in the Traverse City area active, it is in many ways stronger than it was in 2019. This strength seems to be powered mostly by extreme buyer demand, and that makes a lot of sense. Traverse City is a great place to live, and people from out of the area are looking to make this spot their new home. But, out-of-towners aren’t the only ones driving the market forward. Locals are also making a lot of moves, shoring up their spot in northern Michigan, sinking their roots deeper. 

The Brick & Corbett team (yes, all nine of us) work with buyers in our area, so we thought it would be fun to sit down and find out a little more about who our clients are and what they’re looking for. Some interesting commonalities emerged, and we’re excited to share not only what we learned, but also how home sellers and buyers can use what we’ve learned about our market to get a better deal. 

Traverse City is No Longer a “Hidden Gem”

Don’t worry, TC is still a gem, but northern Michigan’s best kept secret is definitely no longer a secret. Most of our team is currently working with or has recently been working with buyers from out of town. Major markets like Chicago, Indianapolis, Cincinnati, and New York City are all feeding buyers here. Many of these buyers are looking for vacation homes or getaways, but after spending some time here, the choice to make this their permanent residence is becoming popular. 

Eric Levanduski shared, “The choice to live here is easy. We’re surrounded by water, we’ve got a ton of outdoor activities, there’s so much to do, plus we’ve got world-class food and drinks. What’s not to love?”

Local lender Troy Gahm of Amerifirst mortgage added, “Now that many professionals have unlocked the ability to work remotely, the need to be close to an office is disappearing. People are valuing quality of life much more, and being near the lake definitely improves that.”

People Want Room to Move

Remember the tiny home movement? We’re not saying that it’s completely a thing of the past, but close quarters don’t seem to be something that many people are asking about nowadays. Buyers are looking for room to spread out a little bit, to socially distance if necessary, and ultimately, have access to the things that are important to them without having to go to crowded areas to get it.

This is definitely leading a surge in the luxury market, according to Betsy Corbett. “Most of my newer buyer clients are looking for property above $500,000. They want amenities like waterfront or homes large enough for families of just about any shape or size.”

Price Ranges are Stretching

Thanks to historically low interest rates, many homebuyers have a wider price range than they’ve ever had before. This is causing many homeowners who might not have been considering an active sale to at least investigate the market. 

Bob Brick summed it up like this, “Just about every category of real estate is receiving interest right now. If you’re selling a $250,000 home, many times those buyers are looking at $350,000 homes, or even $450,000 homes. There’s a lot of moving up and moving around going on right now.”

The Market is Very Competitive

Despite record demand for homes, we are definitely not seeing supply coming up to meet that demand, which is causing some very competitive market situations, and the need for buyers to be able to jump at a moment’s notice. 

Alexa Hughes has been seeing a lot of this in her business. “Multiple offers on listings is just the norm now. Vacant land is moving much faster, pre-approvals are an absolute must if you want to be competitive. I always tell my clients to use a local lender, especially one who’s got a great reputation in our professional community, that way you know you’re in the game and can generally assure yourself a quicker close if you do get the property under contract.”

The Brick & Corbett Team is Here to Help

Whether you’re buying or selling, the B&C team is here to get you through every step of the process, and to get you the best deal possible. We’ve got a team that services clients all across the spectrum, whether you’re a first-time homebuyer, a first-time home seller, looking for your long term family home, a luxury estate, a short-term rental, or anything in between. 

If you’ve got questions about how you can get the home of your dreams in Northern Michigan, we’d love to talk.  


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