We hear more and more that Americans are moving back to towns. Realtors Up North don’t have numbers to prove it, but they feel the trend is alive here as well. Marsha Minervini sold 40 in-town condos in 2008, many at the Village at Grand Traverse Commons, a new-urbanist renovation of a 19th-century psychiatric hospital that her family runs in Traverse City. Even just five years ago, Minervini felt people wanted “a long driveway and a big lot, they wanted to segregate themselves.” But now her clients want an urban feel, to be where the action is, be part of community. Walk to the State Theatre, restaurants and music. She admits, however, that her view may be skewed by self selection—people who want this know to call her.

In Petoskey, Sue Louiselle of Michigan Properties Network says during the 12 years she has sold real estate she has definitely seen increased interest in in-town older homes. Mostly she sees people 35 to 45 years old, “energetic and willing to do the renovation themselves,” or empty nesters who are moving in from the countryside (“they’re tired of driving all the time”) and have the money to hire the work.

“If we want to attract the best and the brightest young people, we have to build the kind of in-town housing they are looking for,” says Kim Pontius, executive vice president of Traverse Area Association of Realtors. He sees young, active buyers wanting smaller homes with higher end amenities. Some might even see being able to live without a car and putting the money into a home as a preferable investment.

Market Prediction

Q & A with Kim Pontius, executive vice president of Traverse Area Association of Realtors.

Kim, it’s your job to know Northern Michigan real estate. What do you see out there?

Interest rates are at historic lows. Median home prices in our five-county region are at $149,000—that’s $20,000 lower than two years ago. We have 20 percent more property listings than we did two years ago. I see a perfect storm for investing in real estate.


If you’re sitting on the fence on a property right now, buy it. You’ll be kicking yourself a year from now if you don’t.

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