Lakeshore and Real Estate

Lakefront living? It’s gonna cost you

Report finds four of the top 10 most expensive lake markets in Michigan are in West Michigan.

May 18, 2018
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LHR Gull Lake
This home, located on Gull Lake in southwestern Michigan, is among the million-dollar listings on the waterfront. Courtesy Lake Homes Realty

West Michigan is home to some of the most expensive lake home markets in the state, according to a recent report.

Lake Homes Realty, a multistate lake real estate brokerage, recently published its spring 2018 market report covering markets in 13 states.

According to the report, four of the top 10 most expensive lake markets in the state of Michigan are in West Michigan. Lake Macatawa, Gull Lake and Spring Lake, ranked at Nos. 2, 3 and 4, respectively.

Lake Michigan, the largest overall market, comprising 44.7 percent of all lake realty in the state, came in as the No. 6 most-expensive home market in the state, with an average listing of $997,042.

Gull Lake, with an average home listing of almost $1.3 million, seems an odd choice to be among the most expensive home markets in the state.

Compared to Lake Macatawa and Spring Lake, which are both near popular tourist destinations and near the shoreline of the state’s “monster market,” Lake Michigan, Gull Lake is fairly small and further inland, located about 40 miles southwest of Grand Rapids and has 18 miles of shoreline.

But the lake’s relative obscurity could be a factor in its high rates, said Brian Cauble, Lake Homes Realty director of market engagement. He said when there is limited inventory in a good location, it can drive up the price of real estate.

“What I always say when I see lakes like that is they’re fairly exclusive, which can push up the price,” Cauble said. “It’s a small market. We’re looking at 23 residential listings.”

According to the report, 44 percent of Gull Lake’s property listings are $1 million or higher, while 13 percent were in the $750,000 to $1 million range and 22 percent checked in between $500,000 and $750,000.

“Your biggest segments are your upper inventory,” Cauble said. “There are probably around 11 homes that are $1 million and up. Your average is being pulled up by really expensive homes.”

Cauble added Gull Lake’s real estate value has fallen slightly since the winter, partly because a few of the higher-end homes went off the market, but also because of an increase in lower-priced homes for sale.

Comparatively, Lake Macatawa, near Holland, was the second-most expensive home market in Michigan — coming in behind Walloon Lake in Charlevoix County — and the most expensive in West Michigan. The lake has only 6 miles of shoreline and 14 home listings.

Lake Macatawa’s average home price is currently about $1.34 million, up from $1.32 million in the last quarter, likely a result of the lake’s tightened inventory, according to the report.

Spring Lake, which is third on the list with an average listing of nearly $1.18 million, has 25 miles of shoreline and 17 homes for sale, with five new listings added from last winter.

The market’s average price dropped from nearly $1.4 million last winter, having gained five new listings.

Overall, the Michigan shoreline real estate market rose to more than $2.25 billion from around $2 billion when LHR covered the state in its winter 2018 report.

The total home market increased by about 16 percent, while the land market increase by 4 percent.

LHR attributed the market increases to the approximately 10 percent increase in available inventory — up from 5,099 to 5,568 total listings since last quarter.

The majority of new listings are homes for sale. Since last quarter, 381 homes have come on the market, along with 88 new land listings available.

Cauble said the Lake Michigan submarket has 30 more million-dollar homes since the winter report was released.

Michigan was the third-largest lake market featured in LHR’s spring market report, behind Texas and North Carolina.

Methodology

Rankings in the 2018 spring market report were based on listing data collected in April 2018.

When calculating the “Most Expensive” and “Most Affordable” rankings, any lake with fewer than 10 home listings or 10 land/lot listings available was eliminated from the report to maintain consistency.

Lake Homes Realty is a member of 82 multiple listing services in 17 states.

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