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Housing expert: Grand Rapids metro still a seller’s market, matched by high demand

With housing costs showing no signs of decreasing in the Grand Rapids area, a local broker weighs in on how investing in a home can still be beneficial.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Despite home values at some of their highest rates, a local broker said housing prices are stabilizing and effectively giving homebuyers more options.

“Buyers right now have a better opportunity than they did last year to buy – last year was even worse – very low inventory,” said Geoff Brown, owner and broker with City2Shore Gateway Group. “Now, buyers can be a little more ‘choosy.’ Because the houses, even though their prices are up and demand is still high, it's better than it was.”

Brown describes a “healthy” market as having about six months of inventory, meaning a single house would take about six months to sell. In 2021, he said inventory was only about two weeks. Today, it’s at around two months, he said.

In an analysis of the best places to live in the United States, U.S. News and World Report ranked the Grand Rapids metro area as #16, with references to the city’s public art and craft beer scene alongside a lower cost of living and below national-average housing costs.

“If you look at national statistics for a small to mid-sized city like Grand Rapids, we're still doing extremely well,” Brown said, later adding that housing prices likely won’t be falling anytime soon. “Right now, there's demand from other states, like New York State, California, Colorado, because of high tax rates on their property. They're leaving there and buying property here in Michigan, that's also helping hold the property values up.”

The city’s growing industry and high-paying jobs are not only attracting Michiganders, but those from out-of-state who are willing to pay those high prices.

While the housing market may be stable, renting is a different story. A study from this summer named Grand Rapids as the sixth-most competitive renter market in the country.

Brown said he encourages able renters to consider investing in a home, and to not dwell on the currently high interest rates.

“If you're renting right now and you have the ability to purchase a home, you're crazy not to because rent is 100% interest,” Brown said. “There's no asset – you're just giving it to your landlord… If you're renting, and you could buy – I would buy. Find a way to buy, talk to a realtor, get connected with a good lender and get a get a mortgage preapproval so that you can go buy, it'll take some time. But you have to start the process.”

In the future, Brown said he expects more options to be coming to prospective buyers.

“It’s going to be a little easier in the next 12 to 18 months for a buyer,” he said. “That doesn't mean it's not a good seller's market, because it's still going to be, it's just going to be a little bit easier.”

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