Lack of homes to buy amid housing market boom


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The Grand Rapids housing market is hot. But as the demand explodes, the number of houses on the market is slim. That, in turn, is making things tough for realtors and buyers.

Some houses are barely on the market for a day before they’re sold. Some don’t even go on the market before they have new ownership. That’s because the housing market in West Michigan is aggressive and comes with a higher price tag than years past.

Homeowner Chelsea Cauthon said she and her husband put their three-bedroom home in Grand Rapids’ Alger Heights neighborhood on the market March 2 and had accepted an offer by March 8.

“Over the course the weekend, we had over 100 people come through the house,” Cauthon said.

They listed the home for $160,000 and accepted an offer for $166,000. Cauthon was not surprised it sold so quickly.

“We’ve only been here not even two years and when my husband and I bought, this house was actually on the market for I think a day, two days maybe and we put in an offer. So we kind of expected a similar turnaround,” she said.

Coldwell Banker AJS Schmidt Associate Broker David Mapes said fewer homes are available in the Grand Rapids area because of a housing market that hasn’t fully bounced back from the 2008 recession.

“An ideal inventory level from our perspective is somewhere between five and six months of inventory, meaning if all of the homes that are on the market were to sell, they would sell in that time frame,” Mapes said.

He said that in 2008 during the housing market crisis, that time frame was more than 13 months. Now it has dwindled to a month and a half.

“It’s very frustrating for well-qualified buyers to put an offer on a home and know they’re not going to get it. And sometimes that happens two, three, four times,” Mapes said.

“There’s a lack of availability of homes across the state. Production levels have shrunk dramatically over the years,” CEO Homebuilders Association of Michigan Bob Filka said.

Mapes and Filka chalk it up to a combination of a lack of workers and not enough space to build homes — another result of the recession.

That’s why it’s competitive to buy any home that’s available.

Cauthon and her husband are about find themselves on the other end of the home buying and selling process as they move to Ann Arbor.

“A little stressed. I mean, you know, just because a lot of homes are getting multiple offers, going over asking price. Ann Arbor is a booming market as well,” Cauthon said.