Northern Michigan Real Estate: November is the Best Time to House Hunt

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…”  That pretty much sums up when most people from out of the area look seriously at relocating to Northern Michigan. Clearly, the time to see the best of what the area has to offer – its sun drenched golden sand beaches, its quaint small towns with quirky little shops, its dense green forest trails and world class cuisine – is from June through the mid October color season. The water is warm, everything is open, the restaurants are fully staffed and the scenery is at its “America’s most beautiful place to live” best.

For the winter sports enthusiasts, late December through mid March appears to be a preferred time to examine the area. They already know about the wonderful summers, so a house hunting trip in the winter may be just the thing – combining a ski/Christmas shopping vacation with a less frantic tour of potential new homesteads.  Avoid the traffic, see if the heating and that cozy looking fireplace really works.  Get out and hit the trails and slopes.  

Personally, I recommend neither summer nor winter for the serious would-be émigré. Too often the obvious shortcomings of a place are overwhelmed by its seasonal advantages. A home that looks close to town in the summer may be a long hazardous trek on seasonal roads in the winter. Cool summer breezes off the lake may become bitter winter winds. For the January house hunter, fresh blankets of winter snow may the mask the septic sink hole in the lawn, loud renters next door, or an unmanageable jungle of vines and noxious vegetation.

I suggest house hunting in November and early December before the glitter of holiday lights and Christmas bustle cloud the judgment. November is the grayest month of the year in these parts as days shorten and neighbors disappear — a time when simple farm folk become dark philosophers, when bare trees and hibernating lawns put a damper on irrational, exuberant tourist thinking.  It’s a test for the non-snow birds among us.  Reality — a stone in the sandals of unchecked seasonal euphoria – checks in.

This is the time to buy a home.  See a house at its most plain, when the sellers are at their least optimistic. This is the time when the hard questions are easier to ask, inspections are best scrutinized and terms are seemingly more negotiable.  And it’s a time to look around as well. See that the beaches are empty, but no less beautiful. The shops that remain open are most helpful, the restaurants most creative and accommodating, their weekly specials a bit more special.

In November, the peacefulness begins settling in and you can see yourself not as a visitor but as a resident.  For the practical among you, it's time to make your move.

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