As we head into the warmer months of summer, city and suburban dwellers are loading up their cars and making their way to Southeast Wisconsin, Northwest Indiana and Southwest Michigan for vacation. While all three regions are popular lakefront getaways with their own unique lifestyle, one particular destination – Harbor Country, MI – has captured the attention of a growing pool of homebuyers.
In the first quarter of 2019, Harbor Country saw its average home price increase 5 percent year-over-year. Closed transactions were also up 30 percent. @properties co-founder Thad Wong says some of that increase can be attributed to buyers who have seen big gains in their stock portfolios over the last 10 years and are now comfortably purchasing second homes.
At the same time, more people are choosing to make a permanent residence where they already spend their weekends. Twice-a-day Amtrak service between New Buffalo and Chicago is making the commute into the city more convenient, and a new South Shore track, scheduled for completion in 2020, will cut the commute time between Michigan City and Millennium Park from 95 minutes to just over an hour.
One of the hottest price points for second homes in Harbor Country is between $350,000 and $550,000, with properties near the lake getting snapped up quickly. Another active segment of the market is between $1 and $1.5 million. Properties in this range include large homes that are close to the beach as well as homes that are further from the lake in communities such as Three Oaks, where buyers enjoy more acreage and exceptional privacy.
As more buyers enter the Harbor Country market, house hunters are having a harder time finding deals in more established communities like New Buffalo, Union Pier and Lakeside. As an alternative, Wong suggests Sawyer, a community that’s still within reach of buyers who are on the hunt for an affordable getaway. With its small-town vibe and local finds such as Sawyer Market, Greenbush Brewing Co. and Infusco Coffee Roasters, the beach community is a great option for buyers hoping to have a piece of Midwestern paradise.
No matter where your home search takes you, be sure to consult a broker whether you are thinking about buying a second home or finding your forever retreat.