The Real Estate Corner with Rick Seese: January Update

After 30 years of real estate management and teaching the business to hundreds of agents, I now focus solely on helping my clients buy and sell homes.  But now I also have time to share my experiences, knowledge and insight with you, the readers of Lowell’s First Look, on a monthly basis.  I invite your ongoing questions, whether you are planning on purchasing your very first home or your next home, or your last home.  Just email me your questions at [email protected]. 

January 2021 Edition Contents
Light Side, Stats, Generations, Lowell Future, First-Time Buyers, RD Loans, and Secret Drawing

Thoughts and Observations about 2020 – The Light Side

-I came to realize that I can probably get by with 3 haircuts per year, although no one else seemed surprised by that statement.

-Zoom meetings can save time and be very efficient, but it is very difficult to shake hands.

-Watching the Lions for decades, taught me how to cut, juke and spin like Barry Sanders, when shopping in a busy grocery store.  Mathew Stafford taught me how to just run for the exit without fumbling my groceries.

-Not all hand sanitizers are created equal.

– Enter my secret drawing for a $50 gift card to the Lowell restaurant of your choice.  Just send me a text at 616-437-2576 labeled specifically “January $50 Gift Card” with your name.  Deadline for the text is February 1.  The drawing will be conducted on February 2 and the winner will be notified.  Shhh.  Don’t tell anyone, your chances will be better!

-There was no such thing as ½ ply toilet paper before COVID-19.

– Will the very next Generation be called Coronials?

-Fellow Realtor’s favorite line “Can you see yourself being quarantined here?”

-Can you freeze toilet paper?

2020 Year-End Statistics

                                                          Market Demand – Year Ending 2020

Location Average Sale Price
Lowell School District     $298,497     +4.7%
Forest Hills     $447,830     +10.4%
Rockford     $327,241     +5.8%
Caledonia     $341,488     +10.5%
Saranac     $223,177     +16.0%
Belding     $175,673     +5.1%
Lakewood     $174,213     +3.4%

Statistics courtesy of GRAR is the Greater Regional Alliance of Realtors. 

Here is the final tally for 2020.  These are very healthy Average Sale Prices and Year-Over-Year increases, especially in a year that consumed us with a pandemic.  The expectation is for the demand to remain steady, with interest rates remaining low.  Inventory remains to be the big question on everyone’s mind.

                                            Market Inventory – Through December 2020

Location Homes Currently for Sale Months of Supply
Entire MLS – GRAR* 5,861 2.0
Lowell School District 31 1.1
Forest Hills 133 2.0
Rockford 130 1.9
Caledonia 76 2.1
Saranac 9 1.5
Belding 19 1.2
Lakewood 21 1.8

*MLS is Multiple Listing Service.  GRAR is the Greater Regional Alliance of Realtors.  Coverage area includes all of Kent and Ionia Counties, northern Barry County (inclusive of Gun Lake) and southeastern Ottawa County.  Statistics courtesy of GRAR is the 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 months’ supply tends to push prices up more rapidly.   Lack of inventory has been the market theme everywhere for the past few years.  Low inventory means less choices for buyers.  Extremely low inventory and above average demand causes escalating prices and multiple offers on desirable new listings.  Some areas around Grand Rapids are experiencing a slight increase in inventory.  However, eastern Kent County and western Ionia County is at or less than 2.0 Months of Supply.  Lowell School District continues to be extremely low at 1.1 Months of Supply.

  Generational Age Bands

Generation Name Births
Age Today*
Oldest Age
The Lost Generation
The Generation of 1914
1890 1915 106 131
The Interbellum Generation 1901 1913 108 120
The Greatest Generation 1910 1924 97 111
The Silent Generation 1925 1945 76 96
Baby Boomer Generation 1946 1964 57 75
Generation X (Baby Bust) 1965 1979 42 56
Xennials 1975 1985 36 46
Generation Y, Gen Next
1980 1994 27 41
iGen / Gen Z 1995 2012 9 26
Gen Alpha 2013 2025 1 8

(*age if still alive today)

Note: Dates are approximate and there is some overlap because there are no standard definitions for when a generation begins and ends.  Table courtesy of Career Planner, Inc.

This information was requested by a few readers over the past couple months.  It seems that most people know the name of their own generation, but do not know the names and ages of other generations.  What does this have to do with real estate?  Plenty of forecasting is derived from generational demographics, not just for real estate purposes, but for many aspects of product marketing.  Yes, we have learned much from the Baby Boomers.  We have learned plenty from the Generation X group.  However, we are still learning about the Millennials and their tendencies.  Generation Z has just begun to enter the home buying market and will begin to leave their influences in the real estate market soon.

The Future of Lowell Real Estate

As a real estate professional, it is easy to understand market demand and locations with an overlay of geographics.  As the saying goes, real estate is all about location, location, location.  Lowell is situated with great accesses to the larger metropolitan area of Grand Rapids.  Lowell also has easy access to I-96, which can take you easterly to Saranac, Lake Odessa, Ionia and further to Lansing, all within an hour.  It can also take you to 28th Street within minutes; US 131 within about 30 minutes and the Lakeshore within an hour or so.  M-21 will take you through Ada to the East Beltline in 15 minutes, or I-96 and Downtown Grand Rapids in 20 minutes.  M-50 runs north to M-44 and M-57, or south beyond Alto.  Those are the geographic attributes of Lowell’s location.  Back in the 1980’s I followed discussions about a bridge across the Grand River between Lowell and Ada someday.  I also followed discussions about the growth of southeast Grand Rapids, 28th Street and Kentwood.  During that time, I often spoke of what I called the “future South Beltline” and how that would influence the future of growth south of Lowell.  Although, M-6 did come to fruition and did link Lowell with even quicker accesses, the bridge between Lowell and Ada did not happen and probably will not for quite some time.  Lowell’s accesses in all directions are convenient and swift.  The more recent popularity of the Lowell School District coupled with the quick geographic accesses has helped put Lowell on the map and in the scope of homebuyers.  The strength and ingenuity of the Lowell Area Chamber of Commerce has helped foster more recent demand to live in Lowell.

Historically Lowell had been a farming community founded by self-sufficient, hard-working families. Settled beyond the urban sprawl of the Grand Rapids suburbs, it is now a blend of innovative businesses from a diverse industry base, with a quaint village setting complimented by a collection of natural resources- rivers, parks, trails that are very attractive to growing families and retirees alike.

It will be the continuance of all those same factors, characteristics and assets that will keep Lowell strong and vibrant and continue to attract younger families and retirees for years to come.  There is a bright future for the Lowell community, all the way from Alto to Grattan.

First-Time Homeownership Growth Continues

One of the major reasons that Generational Age Bands are watched carefully by the real estate industry is the expansion market for the First-Time Homebuyer pool and their demographics.  As stated above, the Xennial, Millennial and upcoming Gen Z groups are a huge population.  Every year, 30-40% of all home sales are First-Time Homebuyers.  Yes, that is correct.  Over the past few years, that percentage has been on the rise, mostly because of the large population of Millennials.  The Xennials still have First Time-Homebuyers, but the front end of this group is now purchasing their second and third homes, as move-up buyers.  The Gen Z age group is now reaching their mid-20’s, which includes all of those that are finishing college, getting married and starting new families.  Also keep in mind that more than ever, single males and females are investing in homeownership in all age groups.  The real estate market demand is healthy AND growing.  The questions remaining include inventory choices and affordability.

Rural Development Loans

Rural Development (RD) loans are one of the more popular low down-payment methods for financing, especially for First-Time Homebuyers.  First, RD loans are restricted to rural settings and rural communities.  The key word here is “rural”.  For the most part, the expanded Grand Rapids Metropolitan suburbs do not qualify.  The larger rural Lowell area does qualify but stops in a westerly direction at Ada Township.  Saranac, Belding, etc., also qualify.  Besides location limitations, there are income limitations also.

Jenny Wagner with Lake Michigan Credit Union says that the most common questions she gets are “Does this property qualify?” and “Do I qualify?”.  This is something people can check online, and this is where lenders check concerning all questions pertaining to RD loans:

Click on…Single Family Housing Guaranteed – Property Eligibility and Income Eligibility.  There are multiple other resources on this website that can help someone educate themselves on the program.

Jenny says the biggest benefit to RD is the 1% down payment.  If the borrower qualifies for the overall program, it is one of the very few programs that allows this low of a down payment.

If you have further questions, you can reach Jenny Wagner at [email protected].  You may also reach her at (616) 325-5856.  Jenny is well versed in all types of real estate financing.

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 44 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 ( Seese), or call/text him at 616-437-2576.



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