Thursday, May 07, 2015

Paddleboarding - Northern Michigan Style

Paddleboarding on Little Traverse Bay
With temperatures expected to soar into the 80’s this week, local paddleboarding enthusiasts aren’t about to let a little bit of ice on Little Traverse Bay get in the way of their favorite pastime. This group took advantage of the East wind, which pushed the ice toward Harbor Springs, to launch their crafts at the Petoskey State Park. There will be plenty of water to enjoy this summer, with Lake Michigan-Huron water levels up about a foot from last year.

Friday, September 05, 2014

"Hurricane" Like Damage on Little Traverse Bay

Little Traverse Bay, along with the rest of Northern Lower Michigan, was hammered by strong thunderstorms last night, which caused extensive damage in the area of Wequetonsing, just East of Harbor Springs.  As can be seen in these photos, almost no docks were spared, and numerous boats ended up on shore.  While we are used to seeing images like this from areas ravaged by hurricanes, it is not very often that we have storm damage such as this Up North.  The NOAA weather buoy in Little Traverse Bay registered peak wind gusts of 38.9 knots out of the SSW at 10:00 p.m. and 10:10 p.m., with peak wave height of 6.2 feet measured at 10:50 p.m.

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

An Awesome Night of Tennis - Petoskey Community Courts

Please plan to attend our FUNDRAISER to renovate
the upper 6-court lighted tennis courts at Petoskey High School!

Pro-Am Tennis Night
Friday, July 18th
An Awesome Night of Tennis!
6:00pm - 8:30pm

Local club pros & their Amateur Partners battle it out in a doubles exhibition!

4:00-6:00pm  Petoskey Alumni invited to play doubles
6:00-6:30p  Kids Drill Courts with Coaches Dree Lo and Brian Forster 
6:30-7:00p  Kids Exhibition doubles with Coaches
7:00p  Fastest Serve Competition for kids!  ($5 for 5 serves)  TROPHIES!

Petoskey Community Courts, a volunteer group charged with raising funds to renovate the upper 6-court complex at PHS, is hosting 8 teams of local tennis pros/amateur players for a fundraiser on Friday, July 18th.  Play starts at 6:00pm and ends around 8:30p.  We'll see three rounds of play ending in a Championship match!  Come root for your favorite teams:

Petoskey       Birchwood       L'Arbre Croche        Boyne Mountain
Bay Tennis & Fitness     Little Harbor Club    Bay View      Bay Harbor

Admission / minimum Donation:
FAMILIES: $40   ADULTS:  $15   KIDS:  $5
Admission includes grilled hot dog/chips/drink

Check out and LIKE our Facebook page!
Check out the attached flyer!


President Stefan Scholl, VP Billy McNamara, Secretary Dree Lo, Treasurer Joelle Wilcox
Al Hansen, Gary Hice, Ralph Tramontini, Wendy Reeve, Doug Dickinson, Sherry Guthrie

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Northern Michigan Vacation Home Market Picks Up

Interesting article in the Detroit News regarding an influx of non-traditional vacation home buyers in Northern Michigan:

Friday, May 25, 2012

Petoskey - America's Favorite Lake Beach and The Weather Channel are highlighting Petoskey as having one of the country's favorite beaches. Petoskey has been chosen as the favorite lake beach. Other honorees are as follows: Best Pet-Friendly Beach - Cape Lookout National Seashore, N.C. Best Shelling Beach - Sanibel Island, FL Best Kid-Friendly Beach - Gulf Shores/Orange Beach, AL Best Party Beach - South Beach, Miami, FL Best surfing beach - Cape Hatteras, NC Best Lake Beach - Petoskey, MI

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Kiplinger Recommends Exclusive Buyer Agents

The June, 2012 issue of Kiplinger Personal Finance contains an article packed with homebuying tips and information. Among the recommendations is that consumers protect themselves as best they can by hiring an agent who represents their interests only. Kiplinger points out that exclusive buyer's agents, such as Buyer's Broker of Northern Michigan, LLC, represent buyers only, never sellers. To read more, click on the following link:

Monday, April 23, 2012

Harbor Springs Real Estate Market Update

Harbor Springs Property Tax Assessor Tim Grimm made some positive comments about the Harbor Springs area real estate market to the Harbor Springs City council recently, according to an article appearing in the February 29, 2012 edition of the Harbor Light, which is reporting that Grim stated that the sales numbers give him reason to believe that the real estate market is "leveling off" and that "the trend is encouraging." Grimm noted that in some areas of the city of Harbor Springs, "we had sales that even indicated a slight increase in values." In Harbor Springs, the total real property taxable value for 2012 (prior to any Board of Review adjustments) was $226.1 million, compared to $224.7 million in 2011. Total assessed values saw a decrease from of approximately $5 million to $272.6 million. So while the total property tax base declined slightly, the taxable value is increasing as the result of properties taxable values becoming uncapped and due to the 2.7% cost of living increase in taxable values. Grimm noted that sales have been steady in the city recently, with 30-plus residential sales in town for the past couple of years. Grimm, who is also the assessor for West Traverse, Cross Village, Center, Readmond and Pleasantview Townships, noted that there were few vacant land sales in outlying townships, and stated that "if you are interested in purchasing property and building your retirement home, this might be the right time given values and low interest rates." Grimm also mentioned activity with respect to Boyne Highlands and Trout Creek condominiums, pointing out a number of recent sales, along with strong waterfront real estate sales in the Cross Village area. Grimm stated that recent sales activity could be indicative of improvement in the local real estate market.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Forbes names Charlevoix one of America's Prettiest Towns has named Charlevoix the Beautiful as one of the 11 most beautiful spots in the United States. I'm sure this is no surprise to anyone who has visited Charlevoix in all of its petunia-lined street splendor. Nestled on the shores of Lake Michigan, Round Lake and Lake Charlevoix, Charlevoix is truly gorgeous. My favorite activity by far in Charlevoix is boating. With the newly renovated state of the art marina facility, staffed by wonderful HarborMaster Hal Evans and staff, beautiful East Park with its bandshell and fountains, Charlevoix is a gem!

Northern Michigan Regional Hospital Number 1

Congratulations, Northern Michigan Regional Hospital, on being named Number One in the Nation for unparalleled medical excellence and patient safety for Vascular Surgery! The Northern Michigan Regional Hospital Heart & Vascular Center opened in May of 2004, and since that time has established an outstanding reputation. With state-of-the-art diagnosis and comprehensive treatment of blood vessel, artery, and vein disorders including blockages, closures, and clots, patients have access to innovative vascular surgery procedures that produce the best outcomes in the nation. What a tremendous honor and asset to our community! Congratulations!

Petoskey Real Estate Sales - 1st Quarter 2011

Petoskey Real Estate Market Showing Signs of Stability

Perhaps contrary to some claims you may have read in local real estate ads, the Petoskey real estate market in the first quarter of 2011 showed little change year over year from the first quarter of 2010. This is good news, however, as the federal first-time and repeat home buyer tax credits, which expired on April 30, 2010, significantly inflated the 2010 numbers. Simply holding its own, absent Uncle Sam's fiscal largesse, can be seen as a victory for the Petoskey real estate market in the first quarter of 2011.

The number of single family residences (including Petoskey homes and condominiums) sold in the Petoskey School District in the quarter increased by one unit, from 46 in 2010 to 47 in 2011. The total dollar volume from sales of Petoskey homes and condominiums in the quarter decreased slightly, however, from $10.1 million in 2010 to $9.8 million in 2011.

The median Petoskey home price declined from $165,600 in the First Quarter of 2010 to $145,000 in the First Quarter of 2011. The average home price also declined slightly, from $219,102 in the First Quarter of 2010 to $207,824 in the First Quarter of 2011.

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Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Northern Michigan Property Tax Appeals

Have you received your 2011 Northern Michigan property tax assessment notice? Does your property tax assessment reflect the fact that your property's value may have declined significantly over the past few years? If not, you may wish to appeal your property tax assessment to your local board of review.

The taxable value of real property for a given tax year is determined as of December 31 of the previous year. In February, local tax assessors mail notices of assessment to taxpayers. Click here for instructions on how to read your Northern Michigan property tax assessment notice. Assessment notices must be mailed to taxpayers at least ten days before the March board of review. If you purchased your property in December, and have not received a notice of assessment, the prior owner may have received the notice of assessment. Contact your assessor prior to the March board of review for a copy of the assessment.

Local Boards of Review usually begin to hear tax apeals on the second Monday in March. An appeal to the local Board of Review is generally required to file an appeal with the Michigan Tax Tribunal. Click here for helpful tips on appealing your Northern Michigan property tax assessment to your local Board of Review.

Oftentimes, a taxpayer will hire an attorney to handle their Northern Michigan property tax appeal to the Board of Review. If the Board of Review does not rule favorably, the attorney can also represent the taxpayer in subsequent appeal to the Michigan Tax Tribunal. My firm, the Law Office of Stefan J. Scholl, P.C., has successfully represented taxpayers in Northern Michigan property tax appeals. Please feel free to contact my law office for assistance with your property tax appeal.

Click here for the 2011 Michigan Taxpayers Guide.


Thursday, October 01, 2009

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Thank you to the Traverse City Record Eagle for bringing us this potentially life-saving information!

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Petoskey Real Estate Sales Collapse

The Petoskey real estate market appears to have collapsed in the first half of 2009, following a relatively strong first half the previous year. The latest sales numbers are abysmal. One can only wonder if these latest numbers signal a market capitulation or bottom, or whether things can actually get worse from here.

The number of Petoskey homes and condominiums sold during the first half of 2009 was down only 22%, from 120 units in 2008 to 94 units in 2009. I only have unit sales data from 2002 forward, and 94 units is the smallest number in the first half of any year in the last eight years. That is the good news.

However, the dollar volume of 1st half residential sales in the Petoskey School District tanked, from $47,001,605 in 2008 to $16,510,876 in 2009, a decrease of almost 65%! This dollar volume is the lowest number recorded since 2001, which is oldest dollar volume data I have available for a first half, when $24.6 million in residential sales was reported.

The average sale price for a Petoskey home during the first half of 2009 plummeted to $175,648 from $391,680 during the first half of 2008. Perhaps more importantly, the median sales price decreased significantly, from $180,500 in 2008 to $138,000 in 2009, a decline of 23.5% year over year, and a full 30% decline from what appears to have been the market peak median sales price of $197,090 for the full year 2005.

Of the 94 Petoskey homes and condominiums sold during the first half of 2009, it appears as though at least 41, or 43.6% of the sales, were bank owned foreclosures. I know that at least some of the remaining 53 sales were short sales, where the bank accepted less than what was owed on the mortgage to avoid foreclosure proceedings. I think that I am being conservative in my estimation that a majority of the sales during the first half of 2009, or over 50% of the sales, were either bank owned foreclosures or short sales. This is truly an astonishing number. Foreclosure sales are having a significant negative impact upon Petoskey property values and it is unclear at this time if the end to the foreclosure boom is in sight.

Note: Based upon sales information obtained from the Northern Michigan Multiple Listing Service for the period from January 1, 2009 through June 30, 2009.

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Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Petoskey - Great Town of America

Petoskey has once again been honored as one of the "100 Best Getaways for a Vacation or a Lifetime" in "The Great Towns of America Revisited" authored by David and Joan Vokac.

The Vokacs describe Petoskey as "a classic among genteel Midwestern towns," and also observe that "The Great Lakes timeless appeal, the natural beauty and winter recreation prospects of surrounding hills, and Petoskey's original heritage remain intact."

Petoskey was included in the original 1998 edition of Great Towns, along with Traverse City, Holland and Charlevoix. Holland and Charlevoix have been replaced in the new edition.

Congratulations Petoskey! Please feel free to contact us if you would like to learn more about Petoskey real estate, and why Petoskey is such a great place to live and vacation. We would love to hear from you.


Thursday, February 05, 2009

National Rails-To-Trails Conservancy Recognizes Little Traverse Wheelway

The Little Traverse Wheelway was recognized by the national Rails-To-Trails Conservancy as its Trail of the Month for January, 2009. Stretching approximately 25 miles along the shoreline of Little Traverse Bay, from Charlevoix through Petoskey and on to Harbor Springs, this gem provides abundant year-round recreational opportunities for residents and visitors alike. A big thank you and congratulations to the Top of Michigan Trails Council, and its many volunteers and supporters, which has been instrumental in the development of the Little Traverse Wheelway!

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Monday, January 19, 2009

Federal First-Time Homebuyer Tax Credit

In addition to much lower housing prices and historically low interest rates, first-time homebuyers who are considering the purchase of a Northern Michigan home can take advantage of a federal tax credit for a limited time. The credit:

• Applies to home purchases after April 8, 2008, and before July 1, 2009.
• Reduces a taxpayer’s tax bill or increases his or her refund, dollar for dollar.
• Is fully refundable, meaning that the credit will be paid out to eligible taxpayers, even if they owe no tax or the credit is more than the tax that they owe.

The credit operates much like an interest-free loan because it must be repaid in equal installments over a 15-year period. Taxpayers will claim the credit on new IRS Form 5405, First-Time Homebuyer Credit.

Only the purchase of a main home located in the United States qualifies. Vacation homes and rental property are not eligible. For a home that you construct, the purchase date is the first date you occupy the home.

Taxpayers who owned a main home at any time during the three years prior to the date of purchase are not eligible for the credit. This means that first-time homebuyers and those who have not owned a home in the three years prior to a purchase can qualify for the credit.

If you make an eligible purchase in 2008, you claim the first-time homebuyer credit on your 2008 tax return. If you make an eligible purchase in 2009, you can choose to claim the credit on either your original or amended 2008 return, or on your 2009 return.

The credit is 10 percent of the purchase price of the home, with a maximum available credit of $7,500 for either a single taxpayer or a married couple filing jointly. The limit is $3,750 for a married person filing a separate return. In most cases, the maximum credit will be available for homes costing $75,000 or more. The credit normally must be repaid over a 15-year period starting the second year after the year the credit is claimed.

The credit is reduced or eliminated for higher-income taxpayers. The credit is phased out based on your modified adjusted gross income. In general, for a married couple filing a joint return the phase-out begins at $150,000 and is completely phased out at $170,000. For other taxpayers, the phase-out range is between $75,000 and $95,000.

Not everyone will qualify for the credit. There are other rules that may impact your eligibility and decision to claim the First-Time Homebuyer Credit. Get additional information at the IRS First-Time Homebuyer Credit Information Center or contact your tax professional for advice.


Friday, December 05, 2008

November Northern Michigan Real Estate Sales Horrible

Horrible Northern Michigan real estate sales numbers for the month of November, 2008 seem to mirror the macroeconomic climate. Today the Labor Department reported that U.S. nonfarm payrolls fell by over half a million last month, the worst such tally in 34 years. Who can buy a home if they don't have a job?

Sales of single family homes and condominiums in the Petoskey, Harbor Springs, Charlevoix and Boyne City real estate markets were down year over year, with 43 sales in November of 2008 compared to 50 sales in November of 2007. Total sales by dollar volume decreased by a whopping 50%, from just under $20 million ($19,990,790) in November of 2007 to just over $10 million ($10,048,450) in November of 2008. The dollar volume of Petoskey sales was only a third of what it was last year, from just under $10,350,000 in November, 2007 to $3.6 million this year.

The median home price declined from $227,100 in November of 2007 to $158,500 in November of 2008, a decline of over 30% year over year. The average days on market for homes which sold during the month of November of 2008 decreased to 210 days, from 269 days in November of 2007.

Sales of bank owned properties almost doubled, from seven to thirteen. Bank owned properties accounted for over 30% of sales during the month of November, 2008, continuing to put pressure on prices in our marketplace.

This report is based upon sales information obtained from the Northern Michigan Multiple Listing Service for the months of November, 2007 and November, 2008.

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Friday, November 14, 2008

Northern Michigan Real Estate Market Conditions - October 2008

Sales of single family homes and condominiums in the Petoskey, Harbor Springs, Charlevoix and Boyne City real estate markets were down year over year, with 58 sales in October of 2008 compared to 64 sales in October of 2007. Total sales by dollar volume decreased from $23,832,500 in October of 2007 to $17,551,855 in October of 2008, a decline of over 26%. The dollar volume of Petoskey home sales alone declined almost three million dollars, or over 36%, from just under $8 million last year to just over $5 million this year.

The median home price declined from $224,500 in October of 2007 to $212,500 in October of 2008, a decline of just over 5% year over year. The average days on market for homes which sold during the month of October of 2008 increased to 222 days, from 185 days in October of 2007.

Sales of bank owned properties more than tripled, from five to eighteen. Bank owned properties accounted for almost one in three sales during the month of October, 2008 continuing to put pressure on prices.

This report is based upon sales information obtained from the Northern Michigan Multiple Listing Service for the months of October 2007 and October 2008.

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Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Fannie Mae Guidelines for Short Sellers

I often receive calls from Northern Michigan homeowners who are looking for advice as to how to proceed when they are no longer able to make their house payments. Fannie Mae has released updated underwriting guidelines which will apply to new mortgage loans sought by individuals with various types of prior credit problems. These guidelines certainly may impact the decisions made by these homeowners who are trying to decide how to deal with their present situation.

Potential borrowers with a foreclosure on their credit record must wait 5 years to be considered for new funding, and are subject to additional credit and down payment requirements for 5 to 7 years. This is an increase from the previous 4 year waiting period. Bankruptcies (other than Chapter 13) require a 4 year waiting period from either the discharge or dismissal date, while Chapter 13s require only a two year waiting period from the discharge date or 4 years from the dismissal date. In the case of multiple bankruptcies, the waiting period is extended to 5 years. The waiting period for Deed-in-lieu-of-foreclosures is unchanged at 4 years, with additional requirements for 4 to 7 years. The biggest change is the implementation of a mandatory two year waiting period from the completion date of any preforeclosure or short sale. The shortened waiting period for short sale sellers will certainly make short sales a more attractive option for homeowners over the alternatives.

I always advise people who need help to seek the advice of not only competent mortgage and real estate professionals, but also to consult with a real estate attorney before taking any action which they may later regret.

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Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Mappable Searching - Northern Michigan MLS

Buyer's Broker of Northern Michigan, LLC is pleased to announce the addition of new interactive mapping capabilities when searching the Northern Michigan MLS for homes. Now you can do a map search for Petoskey, Michigan homes for sale, or show the location of homes meeting your desired search parameters on a map. I have had a number of clients ask for a mappable search feature on my MLS search page, and am happy to provide it for you. Enjoy!


Wednesday, September 24, 2008

What Qualifies as a Principal Residence?

This is probably one of the most frequently asked questions I encounter.

A "principal residence" is defined by section 7dd(c) of the Michigan General Property Tax Act,MCL 211.7dd(c), as follows:

"Principal residence" means the 1 place where an owner of the property has his or her true, fixed, and permanent home to which, whenever absent, he or she intends to return and that shall continue as a principal residence until another principal residence is established.

Not very legalistic, is it? Your principle residence is the the one true home you return to whenever you are away. If you can prove that your property serves as your principle residence, then you may be entitled to a personal residence exemption which would exempt you from property taxes levied by a local school district for operating purposes.

Michigan Property Transfer Tax Relief

Attorney General Mike Cox has issued an opinion which should afford some Michigan home sellers a certain measure of relief in this difficult real estate environment of declining market values.

The Attorney General's opinion deals with an obscure provision in the General Property Tax Act, MCL 207.526(t), which exempts from a seller from paying state transfer tax provided the following requirements are met:

(a) The property must have been occupied as a principal residence, classified as exempt from taxes for school operating purposes under MCL 211.7cc;

(b) The property's SEV for the calendar year in which the transfer is made must be less than or equal to the property's SEV for the calendar year in which the transferor acquired the property; and

(c) The property cannot be transferred for a consideration exceeding its true cash value for the year of transfer.

In his opinion, the Attorney General provides hypothetical examples to help illustrate how the exemption is to be applied under commonly arising factual scenarios. The examples assume that a husband and wife purchased or acquired real property in 2006, occupied the property as their principal residence, and conveyed the parcel to another person in 2008.


SEV when acquired in 2006 = $74,000.00.

SEV when transferred in 2008 = $72,000.00.

TCV in 2008 = $144,000.00.

Transfer or sale price in 2008 = $140,000.00.

OUTCOME: This transfer qualifies for exemption from the state real estate transfer tax because the SEV for 2008, the year of sale, is less than the SEV for 2006, the year of acquisition, and the sale price does not exceed the true cash value.


SEV when acquired in 2006 = $74,000.00.

SEV when transferred in 2008 = $72,000.00.

TCV in 2008 = $144,000.00.

Transfer or sale price in 2008 = $148,000.00.

OUTCOME: This transfer is not exempt under MCL 207.526(t) because the sale price exceeds the true cash value for 2008, the year of sale.


SEV when acquired in 2006 = $74,000.

SEV when sold in 2008 = $75,000.

OUTCOME: This transfer, regardless of the sale price, is not exempt under MCL 207.526(t) because the SEV for 2008, the year of sale, exceeds the SEV for 2006, the year of acquisition.

How much money could this save you? The state transfer tax is $3.75 for each $500.00or fraction of $500.00 of the total value of the interests in real property being transferred. MCL 207.525. (This equates to approximately ¾ of 1% of the value of the property.)


Michigan Property Tax Relief

If you have purchased a new home in Michigan and are still sitting on another Michigan home which you cannot sell in this market, you may be able take advantage of legislation passed earlier this year. Under the new law, a seller can retain an additional personal residence exemption (previously knows as the homestead exemption) for up to three years on property previously exempt as the owner's principal residence if the property is not occupied, is for sale, is not leased, and is not used for any business or commercial purpose. Property qualifying for a personal residence exemption is exempt from the 18 mill tax levied by local school districts for school operating purposes.
MCL 211.7cc


Friday, September 12, 2008

Has the Real Estate Market Hit Bottom?

This intriguing question is the headline of Petoskey News Review Reporter Steve Zucker's recent article on the Northern Michigan real estate market.

While I wouldn't presume to know the answer to this question, some statistics I researched for this story show the extent to which our real estate market has weakened over the past several years.

Almost thirty percent of sales involving single family homes in the Petoskey, Harbor Springs, Boyne City and Charlevoix school districts from January 1, 2008 through September 1, 2008 were bank owned foreclosures. The number of foreclosure sales this year is up almost 500% from the same period in 2006, just two short years ago.

For the months of January through August of this year, there were 359 unit sales of homes and condominiums in the Petoskey, Harbor Springs, Boyne City and Charlevoix real estate markets, with the dollar volume of sales totalling $114,417,285, and a median sales price of $170,000.

While we may not know whether we have reached the bottom, it looks like our most recent residential market top was in 2004. From January through August of 2004, there were 536 unit sales of homes and condominiums in the Petoskey, Harbor Springs, Boyne City and Charlevoix real estate markets, with the dollar volume of sales totalling $150,604,789, and a median sales price of $192,200.

Comparing this year's sales numbers with 2004, our unit sales volume is down over 33%, our dollar volume of sales is down almost 25%, and our median sales price is down almost 12%.

According to some industry observers, subprime mortgage delinquencies appear to have peaked in December of 2007, and subprime mortgage foreclosure starts may have peaked in January of 2008. This could indicate that the flood of bank owned properties into our market may soon be nearing a peak. However, there is concern that we have not yet reached a peak in Alt-A mortgage delinquencies.

I don't beleive that we will see a meaningful improvement in our local real estate market until the overhang of bank owned properties works its way through the system, which is currently in progress. However, with so much bad news already behind us, I am cautiously optimistic that we are beginning to see some light at the end of the tunnel. Hopefully it isn't a freight train!

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Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Petoskey Real Estate Sales 1st Half 2008

Petoskey residential real estate sales volume actually increased year over year in the first half of 2008, from 106 unit sales of homes and condos in the first half of 2007 to 120 unit sales in the first half of 2008.

In addition to a 13% increase in unit volume, the dollar volume of 1st half residential sales in the Petoskey School District increased significantly from $34,064,331 in 2007 to $47,001,605 in 2008, an increase of almost 38%.

The average sale price for a Petoskey home during the first half of 2008 was $391,680, compared to $318,358 during the first half of 2007, while the median sales price decreased slightly, from $183,000 in 2007 to $180,500 in 2008. Days on the market for those properties which sold during the first half of the year increased significantly, from 179 days on market in 2007 to 277 days on market in 2008.

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Friday, July 04, 2008

Happy 4th of July!

It looks like we will have Chamber of Commerce weather here in Northern Michigan for the 4th of July! What a great day to go to a parade, barbeque with family and friends, watch the fireworks and celebrate America's 232nd birthday. Happy 4th of July everyone!

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Thursday, April 17, 2008

NAEBA Establishes New HQ in Phoenix

I am very proud to serve on the Board of Directors of the National Association of Exclusive Buyer Agents (NAEBA). NAEBA is a very unique pro-consumer association composed of real estate licensees who represent homebuyers exclusively. Because NAEBA members do not list property for sale or represent sellers, they can pledge to assist their buyer clients in finding the right property at the best price possible, without potential conflicts of interest.

There have been some very big positive developments at NAEBA recently. NAEBA has hired a full-time Executive Director, Kimberly Kahl, a Certified Association Executive, who most recently served as Executive Director of the Arizona Masonry Contractor's Association. NAEBA has also opened a new Headquarters Office in Avondale, Arizona, a suburb of Phoenix, and just a stone's throw from the Glendale and the site of this year's superbowl.

Kim is doing an absolutely phenomenal job for NAEBA, and we as an association are very lucky to have her. NAEBA is poised for strong growth and great things in the future. Keep up the good work NAEBA!

Photos: NAEBA's new Executive Director, Kim Kahl, with 2007-08 President Barry Nystedt at NAEBA's new Headquarters Offices (top); NAEBA's 2007-08 Board in front of NAEBA's new Headquarters in Avondale, Arizona (above).

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Friday, March 28, 2008

Foreclosure Sales Carry the Day

Wow, talk about a sign of the times. When I logged into our MLS system last night to look at the day's sales activity, I found that four of the five recorded sales for the day were bank owned property. That was truly astounding for me, bringing home the fact that foreclosure sales are one of the driving forces in today's Northern Michigan real estate marketplace.

Most of these Northern Michigan foreclosure sales are properties which are selling below the median home price, which varies by community, but which is around $176,000 so far this year for Emmet County as a whole.

Here is a snapshot of the foreclosure sales which were recorded yesterday, March 27, 2008.

8844 Luce Street, Oden
Sales Price - $40,000

846 Deer Run Court, Boyne City
Sales Price - $160,000

1212 Clarion Avenue, Petoskey
Sales Price - $135,000

6928 Milton Road, Alanson
Sales Price - $75,500

Note: Photos courtesy of Northern Michigan MLS.


Monday, February 18, 2008

Petoskey Pointe Extension Granted

The Petoskey City Council recently voted 4-1 to extend a deadline for "substantial completion" of the Petoskey Pointe Project from early November of 2008 to December 31, 2009. The deadline is part of an agreement between the City and Lake Street Petoskey Associates, the Farmington Hills developer of the Project. According to published reports in the Petoskey News Review, work on the hotel/retail/condominium project stalled last year after National City Bank withdrew its financing. The Developer requested an extension of the deadline in December of 2007, indicating that new financing arrangements involving overseas funds were close to being finalized. To provide protection for the City, the resolution approved by the City Council calls for financing to be demonstrated and construction on the project to resume by March 15th.

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Monday, January 28, 2008

Who Is Your Buyer Agent Representing?

The case of a California couple who are suing their real estate agent because they feel they overpaid for their home in 2004 has ignited a firestorm within the real estate community. The N.Y. Times featured the case in a recent article, and the Today Show ran a segment on the suit. Amazingly, according to NAR, this is the first known case where a buyer's agent has been sued by a buyer over valuation issues.

According to the article in the Times, Marty and Vernon Ummel purchased a home in 2005 using the services of Mike Little, a veteran agent with Re/Max Associates. The Ummels claim that Mr. Ummel, who was also working as a mortgage broker, encouraged them to obtain their loan through him. The suit charges that the Ummels requested a copy of the appraisal ordered by Mr. Little prior to the closing, but that it was not provided to them until after they moved into the home.

The Ummels apparently realized something was amiss when they got a flier from another real estate agent in August of 2005, a few days after they moved into their home, which showed that a house up the street had just sold for $105,000 less than theirs, even though it was the same size. When they finally got their appraisal, they learned that the house up the street was not only cheaper, but that it also had a pool. In early October of that same year, they learned from a separate flier that yet another similar sized home on the same street closed the same day as theirs but sold for $175,000 less.

The Ummels accuse Mr. Little not only of withholding information, but of exaggerating the value of the house to push them into a deal. In her deposition, Mrs. Ummel testified that Mr. Little had told them "many times that it was a very good buy."

In an interview with the Times, Mr. Little called the case "ridiculous,", adding: "The lady's a nut job. I didn't do anything wrong." He blamed the suit on a declining market. "When people see their home values and assets declining, they always feel there's someone to blame," he said. "This is a dangerous time for all of us in the industry," Mr. Little remarked.

The mortgage broker, and the appraiser, who was accused of skewing his report to make the Ummel's house seem worth the purchase price, have both settled out of court. The case against Mr. Little and Re/Max Associates is scheduled to go to trial on Monday, January 28th in San Diego County.

If Mr Little did indeed fail to disclose the appraisal/prior sale information to his clients in order to save the deal, and his reported $30,000 commission, he has almost certainly breached his fiduciary duties to his clients as their buyer's agent (if he was in fact acting in that capacity, as there was no signed buyer agency agreement). The duty of an agent to disclose material information to their client is well-recognized. It is difficult for me to imagine a scenario where a recent comparable sale just up the street of which an agent has actual knowledge would not be considered to be material. If an agent has knowledge of any information which may influence their client's decision whether or not to purchase, that information is material and should be disclosed.

The fact that Mr. Little was also acting as the Ummels' loan originator is also of concern. Buyer agents must be cognizant of any relationship which could potentially pose a conflict of interest between the agent's duty of loyalty to their client and their own financial interests. A number of agents commenting on this case have repeated the old adage that "pigs get fat and hogs get slaughtered." Greed, and the viewing of a client as a profit center, rather than as a principal, can easily lead to legal liability for breach of one's fiduciary duties.

Undoubtedly, there have been a number of instances in recent years where buyer agents have not fulfilled their fiduciary obligations to their clients. Up until now, soaring property values have masked many of these shortcomings. With property values now in freefall, one can expect that buyer agents who have failed to fulfill their fiduciary duties to their clients will be called to task.

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Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Petoskey, Michigan - Terrific Retirement Town

Petoskey, Michigan is being featured along with seven other towns in the January/February 2008 issue of Where to Retire magazine, in an article entitled "8 Terrific Low-Tax Towns."

The article notes that ". . . in Petoskey, the skiing, sailing and scenery attract many retirees who also enjoy upscale dining options, a charming downtown with boutique shopping and a reasonable cost of living." The article explains that the yearly local tax burden on a hypothetical retired couple with an annual income of $60,000 and a home value of $225,000 would be $4,084.00 This amount would be even lower for a home located outside the city limits. Resort and Bear Creek Townships, for instance, both have lower property tax rates than those in the city proper.

Other terrific low-tax towns featured include Easton, Maryland, Oxford, Mississippi, Gainesville, Georgia, Fairhope, Alabama, Staunton, Virginia, Ashland, Oregon and Kalispell, Montana. Once again Petoskey finds itself in great company! If you are considering places to retire, make sure you come see why everyone is raving about Petoskey. The natural beauty of the area is unsurpassed, we have abundant recreational and cultural opportunities, we are a very safe community with an excellent quality of life, we have a first class regional medical center, and it is an affordable place to live. What more could you ask for?


Monday, January 14, 2008

Harbor Springs Real Estate Market Posts Weakest Numbers in Recent History

Harbor Springs real estate market activity plummeted in 2007, with unit sales and total dollar volume of single family residential transactions posting lows not seen since at least prior to 2001, the last year for which sales statistics are available through the Northern Michigan Multiple Listing Service's computerized database.

There were 118 sales of Harbor Springs homes and Harbor Springs condominiums in 2007, defined as sales of properties located within the Harbor Springs School District. The total dollar volume of those sales was $50,296,695. This compares with 147 sales last year, and a record total dollar volume of $64,669,046. Unit sales volume was off almost 20% from 2006 to 2007, while total dollar volume was off almost 23%.

The total dollar volume of sales was the lowest in recent history. The next lowest total was posted in 2001, the last year for which computerized data is available. In 2001, there were 188 sales with a total dollar volume of $52,825,456. Sales in 2001 were impacted by the terrorist attacks on 9/11/2001.

On a brighter note, the median sales price declined only modestly to $261,500, from $267,500 in 2006 and $269,000 in 2005. The median sales price in 2001 was $225,000.

Note: Based on information from the Northern Michigan Multiple Listing Service for the period from January 1, 2001 - December 31, 2007.

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Grand Traverse County Construction Spending Down

The Traverse City Record Eagle is reporting that construction spending in Grand Traverse County slumped to $152.6 million in 2007, the lowest amount in more than seven years.

The article also paints a bleak picture for 2008. A representative from Traverse City based Comstock Construction Co. indicates that their business was "pretty static" from 2006 to 2007, but that they are down approximately fifty percent from a record year for construction in 2004. Comstock Construction Co.'s workforce has shrunk from 140 emplyees a few years ago to 60 workers last year.

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Monday, January 07, 2008

Petoskey Real Estate Market Year End Report

Not surprisingly, Petoskey residential real estate sales volume decreased in 2007 from 2006. Unit sales of homes and condominiums in the Petoskey School District decreased to 255 units from 282 units, a decline of over 9%. Sales by dollar volume also fell, from $98,896,350 in 2006 to $82,476,049 in 2007, a decline of more than 16%.

Despite the decline in sales activity for Petoskey homes and condominiums, the median Petoskey home price actually increased by just under 1%, from $188,500 in 2006 to $190,000 in 2007. Average days on market was almost unchanged, from 200 days in 2006 to 199 days in 2007 for those homes which sold. The average price paid for a Petoskey home dropped from $350,696 in 2006 to $323,435 in 2007.

Note: Based on information obtained from the Northern Michigan Multiple Listing Service for the period from January 1, 2006 - December 31, 2007.

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Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Petoskey Commercial Real Estate Projects Abound

Area planners have been working overtime considering a number of approvals which are being sought for new commercial real estate projects in the Petoskey area.

Walgreens would apparently like to build a new store on Petoskey's north side, at the site currently occupied by Kentucky Fried Chicken and the old Schelde's restaurant. Oleson's is reportedly seeking approval to construct a new store on U.S. 31 North across from Dave Kring Chevrolet - Cadillac. JoAnn Fabrics is looking to relocate from their current location in the Glen's North Plaza to Bear Creek Plaza (near the Petoskey Cinema and Home Depot, and an MC Sporting Goods is supposedly planning to locate there as well). Perhaps the biggest of all these planned developments is a proposed Meijer superstore on U.S. 131 just South of the former Victories Casino site. Now that is a lot of activity for one month in Petoskey, wouldn't you say?

If you are interested in purchasing a piece of commercial property in Northern Michigan, feel free to contact us. We would be happy to discuss the value added services we provide to our Northern Michigan commercial real estate clients. Stefan Scholl, Associate Broker, is also a Michigan licensed attorney practicing in the areas of residential and commercial real estate. We have represented clients statewide in the purchase of commercial real estate, and offer our commercial real estate clients generous commission rebates to be applied to their legal fees. Buyer's Broker of Northern Michigan, LLC can be reached toll free at (877) 228-9664 or (877) 2 BUY NMI. We look forward to the opportunity to be of service.

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Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Petoskey Homes - October Swoon

There is blood in the streets! There is carnage in our local real estate market! If you are a buyer, this could be a great thing! Sorry all you sellers, this is not good news for you. If you don't need to sell right now, just disregard this blog and check back to see how the market is doing in a year or two.

In October of 2007, twenty-four single family residences (homes and condominiums) sold, compared to thirty-three sales in October of 2006, a decline of over 27%. Total dollar volume of sales in October of 2007 was $7,715,200, compared to $10,749,375 in October of 2006, a decline of over 28% year to year. The median home price fell from $199,900 to $188,450, a decline of almost 6%.

As of November 7, 2007, there are 569 Petoskey homes for sale (including condominiums) in the Petoskey School District. With twenty-four sales last month, the monthly absorption rate is 4.2% of available inventory. We currently have just under a two year supply of homes on the market!

In my opinion, this is great news for real estate buyers and investors. Although it may be impossible to predict a bottom, these difficult market conditions are producing a number of attractive buying opportunities right now. Are you a bargain shopper? This may be a good time to start looking, if you are possibly interested in purchasing a Northern Michigan property.

I am putting my money where my mouth is. I recently cashed in on some stock market gains and just purchased a commercial condominium unit. I am also preparing to write an offer on a vacant lot for my own investment portfolio. I am trying to follow the sagest investment advice ever given--buy low and sell high.

If you are interested in learning more about investing in the Northern Michigan real estate market, please feel free to give us a call toll free at (877) 228-9664. We look forward to the opportunity to be of service.

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Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Northern Michigan Regional Hospital

Northern Michigan Hospital has a new name, Northern Michigan Regional Hospital. And a new logo! Pretty snazzy.

We are so blessed to have such a wonderful regional referral hospital in our community, and such a kind and caring professional staff.

If you are considering an employment opportunity with Northern Michigan Regional Hospital, we would be happy to chat with you regarding local housing opportunities, the Northern Michigan real estate market, area neighborhoods and schools, etc., without obligation.

As mentioned in Medical Economics magazine, "a buyer's agent can help you negotiate the best deal possible by providing a comparative market analysis, recommending appropriate professional inspections, giving you information about the area that the seller's agent isn't required to disclose, and reviewing the settlement statement and other relevant documents. Generally, you don't pay for this guidance. Instead the buyer's agent splits the commission paid by the seller to the listing agent."

Our company specializes in relocation and buyer agency. We don't list properties for sale or represent sellers. We are completely, 100% loyal to our buyer clients and their interests. As local experts, we can save you money and offer you peace of mind when relocating to the area. If you are a transferee unfamiliar with the Petoskey area, we will give you all the facts about a particular home or location, both good and bad. A listing agent may not be as willing to offer information that might prove detrimental to a sale, because he or she works for the seller. Their duty is to sell the property they have listed. On the other hand, an exclusive buyer agent only represents buyers and does not have listings. We can provide our clients the objective information they need to make the right decision regarding a home or property.

According to Diversion Magazine for Physicians, "A 1992 study found that 200 relocating workers who used buyer brokers paid an average of 91% of the offering price, whereas those using traditional brokers paid 96%.

If you are considering accepting a position with Northern Michigan Regional Hospital, please give us a call toll free at 877-228-9664. We would be pleased to share our knowledge of the area and the Northern Michigan real estate market with you. We have successfully represented a number of Northern Michigan Regional Hospital transferees, and look forward to the opportunity to be of service.

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Northern Michigan Regional Hospital is our pot of gold at the end of the rainbow!

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Monday, October 01, 2007

Petoskey Real Estate Market Slides in Third Quarter

The Petoskey real estate market took it on the chin in the Third Quarter of 2007, with both sales and sale prices of Petoskey homes and condominiums broadly lower compared to 2006.

The number of single family residence sold in the Petoskey School District in the quarter declined 13%, from 85 in 2006 to 74 in 2007. The total dollar volume from sales of Petoskey condominiums and homes in the quarter sank over 24%, from over $30 million in 2006 to $22.8 million in 2007. The median home price declined precipitously, from $237,000 in the Third Quarter of 2006 to $187,225 in the Third Quarter of 2007, a decline of over 21%.

The declines in the third quarter reflect the weakness in both the state and local economies. In addition to weak demand, increased inventory and the rising number of foreclosures are taking their toll on prices. The figures point to the fact that this is a strong buyer's market. If you are in the market for a Petoskey home or Petoskey real estate, now may be a good time to consider either purchasing or trading up, if you are one of the lucky few in a position to do so.

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Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Storm Sinks Boat at Petoskey Marina

It was a stormy 9/11 in Petoskey, with strong winds and intermittent rain squalls pushing down from the North. Casualties from the storm at the Petoskey City Marina included this seventeen foot Aquasport powerboat, which partially sunk in its slip. When checking on my boat this morning, I found Petoskey Harbormaster Chris Flynn overlooking the scene, with the partially submerged boat suspended precariously from its remaining strained docklines.

Chris reported that the marina staff was on hand until approximately 1:00 a.m checking on boats during the storm. The Aquasport must have sunk sometime in the early morning hours. It was unclear whether the boat was swamped by a wave or perhaps filled with rainwater and overturned. The NOAA weather buoy in Northern Lake Michigan, Station 450002 , reported sustained winds of 31.1 knots from 5:50 p.m. through 7:50 p.m., with a maximum gust of 40.8 knots. That was all it took to shred the headsail shown at the right. What a blustery day and night it was here in Northern Michigan. Fortunately, this is probably as close to a hurricane as we will ever get.

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Friday, August 24, 2007

Desperate Times for Sellers?

MarketWatch Reporter Amy Hoak has written an interesting article about home sellers utilizing unconventional tactics to sell their homes. In addition to the time honored tradition of burying statues of St. Joseph (1-888-BURY-JOE), many are resorting to feng shui practitioners to make their homes seem more appealing to buyers.

Although I believe that both approaches have merit, there is no substitute for pricing your home right if you are seriously interested in selling. As soon as sellers can embrace the concept of current fair market value, their home will sell.