The market for low- to mid-priced homes has heated up in Saline, Dexter, and Chelsea, according to three local Realtors. Although the feeding frenzy was most intense in spring 2013–snow delayed the start of this year’s selling season–home buyers countywide still face two sure signs of an up market: low inventory and rising home values.
Reinhart realtor Rob Ewing has a theory. “It radiated out from Ann Arbor,” he says.
“Right now, Ann Arbor’s market has the least available inventory compared to the needs of the buying public,” Ewing explains. According to Reinhart MLS data, at the end of July, Ann Arbor had only a three-month supply of homes.
As Ann Arbor’s inventory shrank, home buyers looking for the right home at the right price expanded their searches. Ewing says Saline got the bump first, in 2011, because it’s closer and has more newer or updated homes, or “subdivision-type housing on smaller lots.” Then Dexter’s market “got hot,” in 2012, and “I’ve seen it come back in Chelsea, too,” Ewing says.
Chelsea Reinhart realtor Jeff Klink agrees. Chelsea is “in an up market,” he says. “In the worst of times, during the recession, we had an 18-month inventory of homes. Right now it is five months, on average, and under $200K it will fly off the market faster.” Chelsea home values have steadily increased. In 2009, when the housing market bottomed out, Chelsea homes were in the $90 per square foot range. Now Klink says he is seeing around $130 a square foot across the board.
In Dexter, Real Estate One agent Cindy Glahn saw “pent-up demand from the late start to the  selling season cause some multiple offers,” but not as many as spring 2013. “I think we have a more stable market right now, which is good,” she says.
Glahn says one reason people choose Dexter over Ann Arbor is high demand for “newer homes or older homes that have been updated.” In Ann Arbor “homes in the $200K price range are not new,” Glahn says. “In some [Dexter] subs, you get a relatively new home for that. Under $240 in a sub–you will fly off the market.”
Ewing has seen Dexter’s attractiveness grow along with the Border-to-Border nonmotorized trail. A particularly scenic segment connecting Hudson Mills Metropark with downtown Dexter was completed in late 2013. Approaching town, the family-friendly path “brushes up against the back side of West Ridge subdivision,” says Ewing. “I would say, values have increased there, and the market’s gotten hotter than anywhere [else] in Dexter.”