Oakland County, and the Birmingham and Bloomfield area, will continue to be a great place to live and do business in 2013, according to two economic and real estate experts who spoke to a crowd at the Townsend Hotel Thursday morning.
Paul Traub, from the Federal Reserve Bank in Chicago, and David Trott, chairman of Trott & Trott, P.C. and CEO of NDeX, spoke as part of the Birmingham Bloomfield Chamber's annual Economic and Real Estate Breakfast.
"Birmingham and Bloomfield certainly experienced some problems (in recent years), but it wasn't as bad as the rest of country," Trott said.
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According to Traub, a business economist at the Detroit branch of the Federal Reserve Bank, the country, Michigan and Oakland County are beginning to see signs of strength after four years of economic recovery. Investments are up, Traub said, as is consumer spending and personal savings.
"It's been a long way down, and a long way back," Traub said, adding, "It's going to be very positive for Michigan going forward."
That positive message was echoed by Trott, who spoke on the residential and commercial real estate market in Oakland County.
According to Trott:
- More homes are being sold: 18,701 homes were sold in Oakland County in 2012. This is up from 2007, when just over 12,500 homes were sold.
- Home prices are on their way up: Since taking a major hit in 2008-09, the average price of a home in Oakland County has been increasing steadily. In 2008, the average price for a home was $177,000. In 2009, that figure dropped to $147,000 and continued a steady decline until bottoming out at $129,000 in January 2011. As of November 2012, the average sale price was back up to $147,000.
- News is even better locally: Trott said locally, home sale prices are up 11 percent, with some areas seeing a 15 percent increase.
- Sales of multi-million dollar homes back up: In 2012, 148 homes were sold in Oakland County for more than $1 million. That is up 66 percent from 2011.
- Optimism nationwide: According to National Association of Realtors, 5 million homes are expected to be sold in 2013.
- Mortgage rates lowest in five years: In January 2013, mortgage rates nationwide are expected to hit 3.37 percent. That's down from 6.22 percent in 2007.
- Local commercial vacancies stabilizing: In the Birmingham-Bloomfield area, commercial vacancy rates are evening out after several years of growth. Occupancy is now 88 percent locally, with offices bringing in an average of $23.61 per-square-foot in rent, per year.
Going forward, Traub said the businesses that will succeed in 2013's economy will be the ones with a "glass half full" approach.
Many consumers are still wary about spending a lot of money, Traub said — evident when people tuck more money into savings or start to pay down their debt —but in order for the economy to grow, people must spend.
"We think things are starting to improve for the consumer," Traub said, adding, "The business that takes the cup half full approach ... that will be the people benefiting going forward."