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Industry expert: Marquette area home building market improving

October 22, 2012
By JACKIE STARK - Journal Staff Writer ( , The Mining Journal

MARQUETTE - The housing market is rebounding in the state of Michigan, and all things point to a healthy recovery in the near future, according to officials inside the home building industry.

Lee Schwartz, executive vice president for governmental relations for the Michigan Association of Home Builders, made a trip to Marquette last week to meet with Lynn Swadley, president of the Upper Peninsula Builders Association, and the rest of his organization, to discuss the uptick in home sales across the state.

According to the Associated Press, U.S. builders started construction on single family homes and apartments in September at the fastest rate since July, 2008.

Article Photos

Curtis Graham, owner of Graham Builders, LLC, cuts trim for a door frame during the construction of a new Cedarville Townhomes unit Friday morning. Owned and operated by Mark Curran, Cedarville Townhomes has added two new apartment buildings in the last two years. (Journal photo by Matt Keiser)

Both men said though things are looking up for what was once an industry devastated nationally by the Great Recession, most Marquette residents who are homeowners were not deeply affected by the housing crisis that swept the nation. Swadley said that was due to the relative seclusion afforded Marquette by being a smaller community in Michigan's Upper Peninsula.

Swadley also attributed the stability of the Marquette area economy to its diversity, citing Marquette General Health Systems, Northern Michigan University, and forestry and mining as big driving forces in the local economy.

Swadley said Marquette's relative stability has made it a bright spot in a state hit hard by its struggling economy.

"Our condominium sales have really taken off this year, new home sales are starting to pick up, we're seeing reports around the immediate area of this resurgence and a renewed optimism," Swadley said of the local housing market. "Marquette is one of those shining lights in the state. Even though we're a little tiny community, comparatively, we're one of the areas where people in the state like to point to and say, 'Look at what's happening up there.'"

Schwartz said the construction industry is often at the back-end of major declines and rebounds in the state's economy, but that doesn't mean it's not an important part of a healthy, vibrant economy.

"Housing has been an important component of the economy for some time and it's one of the more underappreciated components," Schwartz said. "When you look at a typical house being built ... you're going to have between 25 to 30 people working in various stages on that home, and that's just directly involved in working on the home that doesn't include the carpet salesman at the carpet store, the truck driver that delivers (supplies), all the related and associated members, so it's been a big boost."

With record-low mortgage rates, Schwartz and Swadley both said now is the time for home builders and home buyers alike to get in on the action.

"If you think it's a good time to build or to buy a home or to remodel, take advantage of these rates now," Swadley said. "The facts are there, and, in historic trends, we've turned a corner and things are on the upswing."

Jackie Stark can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 242.



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