Bay City-area housing market experiences growth during the pandemic

Home-for-sale signs are popping up alongside the spring blossoms in Bay County yards. The local housing market is booming, with a record-setting number of homes selling in the last year.

Local real estate experts point to several different factors as likely causes of the housing boom. But no matter what’s behind the record-setting sales, and corresponding rising home values, it’s putting smiles on the faces of sellers.

Over the last year home values jumped 10%, says City Assessor Wade Slivik, adding that “people are buying up homes faster than they’re being put on the market.”

The trend has been slowly growing over the last decade. A year ago, though, Slivik wasn’t sure if that would continue in the face of a global pandemic. Now, Slivik, who analyzes the data daily, says he is pleasantly surprised with what’s happened. Over the last year in Bay City home sales totaled 571, a record high.

“I had absolutely no idea. I would never have predicted such a hot market,” Slivik says “It’s incredible to see.”

Slivik says he can’t pinpoint exactly why Bay City seems to be a hot spot right now. Other real estate experts in the area see a variety of causes.

Chris Girard, who owns Girard Investments with his wife, Molly, says whether it’s rentals or purchases, people are looking to move into Bay City and the surrounding area. “We just listed a four-bedroom house, and in 24 hours we’ve had 300 people contact us.”

He sees a mix of buyers.

‘Really there are opportunities that Bay City has with our housing. It is a great place to live. People want to plant their roots and with what’s happening with the pandemic, and people can work from home, why not find a place in a hometown you really want to be in?’

– Chris Girard of Girard Investments

“We get a share of people moving into the area for jobs. Some people are from the area and want to stay here and we get a lot of first-time renters, but there are a lot of young families looking for homes. The market is just super-tight right now.”

Whatever their motive, the need for single family housing is so great, Girard says people are willing to pay $1,000 a month to rent mobile homes.

Jenifer Acosta, developer and commercial real estate developer, says the shortage of inventory means sellers need to be prepared to move fast.

“We’re in a housing market that if people want to sell, it’s going to move quickly, so they need to have a plan for where they’re going.” For example, she says she recently listed her mother’s home in Auburn and had it under contract within six days.  

Acosta says part of what’s generating so many buyers is mortgage interest rates are low right now. “People are interested in purchasing homes that maybe were renters in the past,” she says. People also recognize that a home is an investment. In the last year,…

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