Homes Sales Remained Steady

March 5, 2004
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Low mortgage rates enabled housing sales in the region to remain relatively healthy during 2003, despite the higher unemployment rate.

Along the lakeshore, the sale of single-family homes and condominiums increased 7.4 percent last year over 2002, from 4,864 units to 5,224 units, according to the West Michigan Lakeshore Association of Realtors.

The average selling price within the association’s service territory, which covers a market stretching from north of Muskegon to south of Saugatuck, rose 4.3 percent from the previous year, from $141,942 in 2002 to $148,154 in 2003.

The increases in both categories came even as unemployment rates in Ottawa, Muskegon and Allegan counties inched higher in 2003 than the prior year.

Ken Bordua, president for 2004 of the 1,000-member West Michigan Lakeshore Association of Realtors and an associate broker for Greenridge Realty Inc. in Spring Lake, described the year as offering a “fairly decent market.”

“All things considered, it was a good year last year,” Bordua said.

In weighing prospects for 2004, Bordua anticipates that a recovering economy, projected dips in unemployment rates, and mortgage rates that are forecast to rise but remain relatively low will drive sales volumes.

“Provided we can get the job growth and the economy looking good, it’s still a soft market but it’s beginning to gain,” Bordua said. “We’re seeing quite a bit of activity.”

The region, however, started 2004 with a sales decline.

From Jan. 1 to late February, housing sales within the lakeshore association’s territory were down 17.0 percent from the same period a year ago, although the average selling price rose 4.7 percent from 2003, to $154,275.

The National Association of Realtors projects that 30-year fixed mortgage rates for 2004 will gradually increase from about 5.7 percent at the start of the year to around 6.5 percent by the fourth quarter.

In Kent County, the sale of single-family homes, condos and vacant housing properties increased a strong 14.5 percent in 2003, from 11,772 sales to 13,481 sales, according to statistics from the Michigan Association of Realtors.

The average cost of a home in 2003 in the Grand Rapids area, covered by the Grand Rapids Association of Realtors, was $145,912, down slightly from $146,319 in 2002, according to the state association.

Statewide, home sales grew 4.8 percent from 2002 to 2003, to 127,900 units. The average selling price statewide last year was about the same as in this region — $144,558, also up 4.8 percent from a year earlier.    

Lakeshore Sales


2003 Number of sales: 5,224
2003 Average price: $148,154
2002 Number of sales: 4,864
2002 Average price: $141,942

SOURCE: West Michigan Lakeshore Association of Realtors

Data includes the sale of single-family homes and condominiums.

Grand Rapids Sales


2003 Number of sales: 13,481
2003 Average price: $145,912
2002 Number of sales: 11,772
2002 Average price: $146,319

SOURCE: Michigan Association of Realtors

Data includes the sale of single-family homes, condominiums and vacant properties.

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