By Beth Garcia
C&G Staff Writer
ROYAL OAK— Although Oakland County has seen a recent drop in housing sales, the real estate business continues as usual, according to Walter Baczkowski, CEO of Metropolitan Consolidated Association of Realtors.
Oakland County homeowners, and others in metro Detroit, continue to share housing market woes due to an increase in homes currently on the market. However, Baczkowski said that these difficulties do not necessarily indicate a dying real estate market.
“We are down from years like 2002-03 by about as much as 15 to 20 percent,” he said. “But we are still seeing 12,000-16,000 sales a month in Oakland County alone. There is a misconception that the market is completely dead and that nothing is going on, but there is still a tremendous amount of real estate business going on.”
However, Baczkowski added that the increased real estate inventory on the market has fooled many homeowners into thinking homes cannot be sold. According to MCAR, Oakland County used to see 6,000-8,000 active home listings at one time.
“But now we are seeing numbers upwards near 16,000,” Baczkowski said. “We have increased the supply so rapidly the demand cannot keep up. If no other properties go on the market, we would still have enough inventory to satisfy buyers’ needs for the next year.”
Baczkowski said some homebuyers often look at as many as 40 properties before making a home purchase. This, he said, means only homes with the most desired amenities win out. In a growing city like Royal Oak, some of these desired amenities belong to condominiums, not homes.
“Condos are very attractive to people looking to downsize,” Baczkowski said. “Royal Oak is the place many go to for this option.”
According to Sharlan Douglas, spokeswoman for the downtown SkyLofts MarketSquare condos, Royal Oak condo sales haven’t slowed down much, if at all.
“Condos sales still continue in Royal Oak because it’s such a competitive market. Everyone wants the ability to live in a downtown like this,” Douglas said.
The SkyLofts MarketSquare, located at 101 Curry Avenue at 11 Mile Road, is a recent addition to the Royal Oak skyline, which has grown to include many condominium and residential buildings. Over the years, outside development companies have added hundreds of condos to the city. According to Baczkowski, companies shouldn’t see difficulties selling these downtown homes.
“There are two distinct condo markets right now: the younger, single or newly married crowd, and the baby boomers,” he said.
These two markets continue to flock to Royal Oak, says Allison Clulch, spokeswoman for Metro-Station lofts. Metro-Station, a three-phased condo development located at the south end of the city, continues to see sales, Clulch says.
“Our first phase, Metro Lofts, sold out in about six months,” she said. “Our second phase, currently under construction, is already 40 percent reserved.”
Douglas said there are only a few residences left at SkyLofts MarketSqaure.
According to Baczkowksi, most homeowners looking to sell their properties during this difficult market must make their homes more attractive to buyers. However, he said, Royal Oak condo sellers don’t currently feel that same pressure.
“We are seeing that these condos are completely different. Many people will even buy these sight unseen, especially in the high-rise communities where all the amenities are there.”
Douglas agrees. “People want to be in downtown Royal Oak and that won’t change.”
You can reach Beth Garcia at firstname.lastname@example.org
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