The Real Estate Corner with Rick Seese: October 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 and knowledge 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].

Historic Market Levels

The real estate market continues to reach new levels of sales activity, as well as low inventory levels.  The movement to affordability continues beyond the Grand Rapids metropolitan areas, as the fall market begins to enter toward the winter market.  We reported last month that the inventory was at record setting low levels and the demand was still producing over asking price sales.  We will continue to center our analysis around the Lowell real estate market and the markets immediately surrounding Lowell.  Yes, a picture is worth a thousand words, but statistics can produce many pictures.  All the following statistics are Year-to-Date through September and produced from the Grand Rapids Multiple Listing Service (MLS).  The percentages are in comparison to 2019 numbers through the same reporting period.  Our West Michigan market ranks nationally as one of the more active markets in America.  West Michigan is a very popular location to purchase a home and raise a family.

The Market Demand

This chart compares the Lowell School District market area with other surrounding school district market areas. The percentages are increases/decreases over the same period as last year.

Year to Date Through September 2020

Location Average Sale Price Pending Sales Units Sold
Lowell School District     $296,747     +8.4% +3.2% +4.9%
Forest Hills     $430,913     +6.9% -2.2% -4.2%
Rockford     $320,570     +4.0% +6.3% -1.7%
Caledonia     $333,650     +11.6% +5.9%  0.0%
Saranac     $226,682     +17.5% +4.4% +6.0%
Belding     $171,165     +4.3% +2.7% +1.7%
Lakewood     $173,258     +8.3%  +25.8%   +15.3%

Statistics courtesy of GRAR is the Greater Regional Alliance of Realtors


The Covid-19 recovery has now come full circle, as the Lowell School District has now exceeded the 2019 homes sold by 4.9% and has 3.2% more pending sales, compared to the same period last year.  Lowell’s average sale price has now escalated 8.4% in 2020 to $296,747.  The remainder of the above chart indicates the movement to affordability is continuing to the outlying suburbs of Eastern Kent County and Western Ionia County.  Buyers continue to move to less densely populated areas to find more elbow room, indoors and outdoors, as work from home continues to increase in popularity.

Inside the Lowell Market Demand

                                                           Year to Date Through September 2020

Location Average Sale Price Pending Sales Units Sold
Lowell School District    $296,747     +8.4% +3.2%        319      +4.9%
City of Lowell    $272,817     +5.1% +8.5% 65      +18.2%
Lowell Township    $302,556    +15.6% +7.4%        100       +4.2%
Vergennes Township    $334,560     +3.6% -4.7%          59       +3.5%

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

The above Lowell Market Demand numbers only compares the three highest populated municipalities within the Lowell School District.  The City of Lowell has experienced 18.2% more Units Sold this year over 2019 and currently has 8.5% more Pending Sales.  Lowell Township has experienced a 15.6% increase in their Average Sale Price.  Lowell is a popular school district among younger home buyers and a convenient location for many buyers with great accesses in all directions.

The Market Inventory

                                                             Year to Date Through September 2020

Location Homes Currently for Sale Months of Supply
Entire MLS – GRAR* -20.3%                   2.4     -20.0%
Lowell School District -39.7%                   1.6      -36.0%
Forest Hills -12.9%                   2.3      -11.5%
Rockford -23.5%                   2.2      -31.3%
Caledonia -18.5%                   2.4      -17.2%
Saranac -28.6%                   1.7      -29.2%
Belding -37.2%                   1.8      -35.7%
Lakewood -7.1%                   2.4      -11.1%

*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.  As you can see, the extreme low supply continues to be an industry-wide problem, as buyers have fewer choices of homes in higher demand areas.  All the compared market areas have less homes for sale, as compared to the same time in 2019.  Lowell has 39.7% less for sale.  Lowell, Saranac and Belding have the lowest Months of Supply in our area of focus, reinforcing the Eastern Kent County and Western Ionia County demand.

Inside the Lowell Market Inventory

Year to Date Through September 2020

Location Homes Currently for Sale Months of Supply
Lowell School District -39.7% 1.6      -36.0%
City of Lowell -25.0%                  1.2      -25.0%
Lowell Township -18.8%                  1.5      -25.0%
Vergennes Township -43.8%                  1.7      -39.3%

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

The above chart magnifies the supply problem within the Lowell School District, which has 39.7% less homes on the market as compared to the same time in 2019.   By the nature of seasonality, the Months of Supply will most likely be less over the upcoming winter months.  These numbers are historically low for our community.        

Location Days on The Market
Entire MLS – GRAR* 14
Lowell School District 11
Forest Hills 13
Rockford 14
Caledonia 18
Saranac 12
Belding 16
Lakewood 18


Location Days on the Market
Lowell School District 11
City of Lowell 8
Lowell Township 12
Vergennes Township 17

 As a result of low inventory, homes do not stay on the market very long.  Properly priced listings can sell for over asking price and within hours of being listed.  Again, Lowell leads the market swiftness with an average of 11 Days on the Market.  As Realtors within an office network and communicate with each other, many homes sell before a sign goes in the yard.  By the time a buyer finds a newly listed home online, it can be too late, especially in the City of Lowell, with an average of 8 Days on the Market.

Current Trends

The buyer demand continues to build faster than homes are becoming available to purchase, especially in Eastern Kent County and Western Ionia County.  Affordability, as well as quality school districts are attracting buyers.  Also, Baby Boomer sellers are staying in their homes much longer before downsizing.  Covid-19 remains a factor for much of the suburban movement and is projected to remain a factor as more and more employees and self-employed people work from home.  The appetite for larger homes, larger lot sizes and smaller communities with more open spaces may be the new trend for the next generation.  Lowell checks almost every box for many buyers, including location and accesses.  A 20-minute drive to downtown Grand Rapids or 28th Street shopping is convenient, as well as M-6 and I-96 to the south for those that drive to Lansing.  Afterall, Lowell is the next community exit east of 28th Street and the first exit east of the Gerald Ford Airport.

Down the Road        

Many factors remain unknown as we move toward 2021.  We know that interest rates will remain historically low for the foreseeable future, which is a catalyst to affordability.  However, as Average Sale Prices continue to rise, will interest rates provide enough help for buyers, especially first-time homebuyers?  This is an important question, since historically, first-time homebuyers make up 30-40% of all home sales every year.  The employment picture remains a question, as those that lost jobs and will lose jobs due to the pandemic, cannot buy homes.  Therefore, we need more jobs for those that have been displaced and we need businesses and industry to recover with the need to expand their current employment.  In the meantime, we all hope for progress and continue to play our part with the support of local shopping.

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 43 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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