Real Estate Corner with Rick Seese: August Edition

This month Rick shares his perspective on the sky not falling in the real estate market, provides area statistics, and ends with a monthly summary.

My Perspective – The Sky is Not Falling

Let’s begin with what the real estate business was like several years ago.  It was normal.  A listing hit the market and there were two to three showings during the first week and maybe another two the following week.  Buyers were not anxiously jumping to write over list price offers, they were shopping and not worrying about the supply of choices, as there were plenty of homes for sale.  Buyers were always reserving the right to have home inspections and asking the seller to provide a property survey, to prove what they were selling and to make sure there were no encroachments.  Buyers were negotiating sale prices and, in many cases, asking sellers to pay buyer’s closing costs, especially with FHA and VA financing offers.  Sellers were also willing to pay for repairs, especially if repairs were required for a buyer’s method of financing.  All was well for First-Time Home Buyers.  Sellers were accustomed to all these negotiations as normal ways and means to sell their home. Life in the real estate world was steady and much calmer.

After combing through our local statistics below, reading several trade articles, tracking the most recent economic news, and looking up at the clouds, the sky is right where it belongs.  Interest rates are higher, but not as high as one might think. Some real estate market areas are somewhat slower, but many are still very active.

Retail sales are steady, gas prices are now under $4.00 per gallon, job numbers are huge, and the latest inflation report showed a bit of easing, although still too high.  Wholesale prices dropped .5% in July vs June, which was the first monthly drop in two years.  The unemployment rate is extremely low at 3.5% and homeownership continues to rise, mostly driven by the Millennials.  There is still high price bidding by buyers in higher demand areas with properly priced homes, but there is less excitement by buyers in lesser demand areas with over-priced homes and homes that need a fair amount of updating.  For the past few years, a home’s condition didn’t seem to matter as much, but now it appears that a home’s condition may be coming back around as a key factor for buyers, especially if buyer’s home choices continue to grow.

Yes, there are fewer pending sales overall, but not a huge difference in higher demand areas.  Yes, there is a bit more supply and some additional new listings, but not in large numbers.

You can find further explanations under each statistical table below.  I will be keeping an eye on more inflation reports and the Federal Reserve enacting further interest rate increases, but there is room for further action to curtail inflation before we need to make sure the clouds are still in the sky.

2022 Statistics Year-To-Date

Average Sale Prices Year-To-Date Through July 2022

School District Average Sale Price YTD    /    Final 2021
Forest Hills $556,155 / $503,893
Rockford $459,700 / $389,329
Caledonia $416,866 / $393,991
Lowell $409,334 / $348,377            
Entire MLS $285,259 / $268,982
Saranac $255,439 / $254,552
Lakewood $251,950 / $203,636
Belding $236,779 / $212,680
*MLS is Multiple Listing Service.  Coverage area includes all of Kent and Ionia Counties, northern Barry County (inclusive of Gun Lake) and southeastern Ottawa County. Statistics courtesy of GRAR (Greater Regional Alliance of Realtors). 

All our focus area school districts solidly increased their Average Sale Prices from last month, except Forest Hills and Saranac were slight increases.  The Lowell School District registered a $5,253 increase to $409,334. That is a 1.3% month-to-month increase. Lowell is now $60,000 over its 2021 year ending average.  That is a 17.5% increase from their 2021 year ending average sale price, and it is only August.  In comparison, the entire MLS is $16,277 over its 2021 year ending average, which is a 6.1% increase.  We may begin seeing less increases in average sale prices, as higher end sales are slowing at a faster pace than lower end sales.  Larger numbers pull average sale prices upward.

Average Sale Prices by Surrounding Township Through July 31, 2022 (12-Month Rolling Average)

Township Average Sale Price YTD
Ada Township $607,719
Cascade Township $578,456
Vergennes Township $422,470
Grattan Township $399,582
Lowell Township $362,654
Bowne Township $346,225
Entire MLS $285,259
Boston Township $271,988
Keene Township $224,914

Statistics courtesy of GRAR (Greater Regional Alliance of Realtors)

Here are the Average Sale Prices by Surrounding Townships through July 2022. The Lowell School District takes up a portion of each of these townships, except Vergennes and Lowell Townships, where the entire townships are encompassed by the Lowell School District.  This table represents the first 7 months of 2022.  As you can see, our surrounding townships have higher average sale prices compared to the total MLS, except Boston Township and Keene Township.  Most of the townships increased or retained their 12-month rolling average sale prices from last month, except Boston and Keene.  Grattan Township increased greatly, mostly due to the seasonality of their large amount of lakefront properties.

Market Inventory As of July 31, 2022


School District

Homes Currently

for Sale

Months of Supply for July 2022 New Listings in July

 2021 vs 2022

Entire MLS – GRAR* 5,372 1.8 4,764     4,338
Rockford 96 1.6 74           87
Forest Hills 96 1.5 84          103
Caledonia 67 1.9 33           46
Lowell 43 1.7 29           40
Belding 10 .7 24           20
Lakewood 10 .8 14           21
Saranac 12 1.8 14           13
*MLS is Multiple Listing Service.  Coverage area includes all of Kent and Ionia Counties, northern Barry County (inclusive of Gun Lake) and southeastern Ottawa County.  Statistics courtesy of GRAR (Greater Regional Alliance of Realtors).

“Months of Supply” refers to the number of months it would take for the current inventory of homes on the market to sell given the current sales pace.  Historically, six months of supply is associated with moderate price appreciation, and a lower level of month’s supply tends to push prices up more rapidly.

When we return to a normal Months of Supply, a new “normal” may range between 4 to 6 months of supply.  Statisticians will be able to determine normalcy as the demand is compared to sale prices when inventory moves upward.

Homes Currently for Sale remained steady or increased within all our focus area school districts, except Caledonia.  The Entire MLS saw a 13.6% month-to-month increase in homes for sale from June.  Months of Supply increased most everywhere but remains about one-third of historical normal market levels.  The Entire MLS increased from 1.5 to 1.8 from June to July.  Lowell Schools increased from 1.4 to 1.7.  New Listings decreased year-over-year within the Entire MLS, but mostly increased within our focus area school districts.

Pending Sales As of July 31, 2022


School District

Pending Sales

July 2021 vs July 2022

Entire MLS 3,752         3,097
Forest Hills 75               81
Rockford 55               74
Caledonia 40               43
Lowell 23               30
Belding 21               22
Lakewood 9                 23
Saranac 12                10
Statistics courtesy of GRAR (Greater Regional Alliance of Realtors)

Pending sales are sales under contract with an accepted offer, but those transactions have not finalized yet (closed).  Overall, the Entire MLS saw a year-over-year decrease in Pending Sales. However, our focus area school districts continue to show demand strength when comparing July 2021 and July 2022.  I expect that Pending Sales will continue to decrease everywhere with additional increases in interest rates.

Pending sales have now decreased within the Entire MLS for the sixth consecutive month, when comparing the same time frame in 2021 vs 2022.  We will continue to watch this chart closely, as additional hikes in interest rates should continue slowing the overall demand.  These numbers are important as a tool to forecast future closings and indicate recent activity.

July 2022 Monthly Summary

What does all this mean?  The overall real estate markets nationally and regionally are continuing to slow.  The interest rate hikes are applying the economic brakes, as intentionally prescribed by the Federal Reserve.  I expect another interest rate increase in September, as the latest inflation report from last week shows that more intervention is needed.  From there, it will depend on how inflation reacts and what future reports tell us.

Our local real estate markets have not been affected as much as larger markets throughout Michigan, the Midwest, or nationally.  However, statistically, the numbers take 30-60 days to see an overall effect.  I suspect that West Michigan higher demand markets will begin to see an increase in months of supply and the less demand markets possibly exceeding 3 months of supply within the next 30-90 days.  The Grand Rapids area markets will be more resilient, as current demand will continue to show strength, as West Michigan is one of the more preferred areas to live within the entire Midwest region.  Most of our focus area school districts will continue to have positive demand due to their popularity and the quality of education they provide.

There is still a long way to go before we approach a normal Months of Supply of 4 to 6 months, but we are headed in that direction.  Keep in mind, we have NOT been in a normal market over the past 2-3 years.  Normal and healthy housing and rent appreciation is NOT 10% to 20% annually.  Economists will be watching the same Supply and Demand charts regionally and nationally, as we continue to fight inflation.  I will be watching those same factors locally.

Rick Seese works with buyers and sellers of residential, commercial, and industrial real estate.  He is an Associate Broker with Greenridge Realty, Inc. and has been licensed full-time for over 40 years.  If you’re interested in reaching out to Rick for more information, or have a question for the monthly article, you can contact him via email ([email protected]), visit his website at or Facebook page at (, or call/text him at 616-437-2576.

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.