Features Putting roof over your head becoming harder for Michiganders

Putting roof over your head becoming harder for Michiganders

- Photo courtesy of National Association of Home Builders

NORTHERN MICHIGAN – There are plenty of reasons to live in North Michigan: the sense of community, the themed events and festivals, some of the best lakes in the state, and more. But there’s a growing problem with finding a place to live in North Michigan: the housing crisis.

North Michigan’s housing crisis

Currently, there’s a housing shortage all across North Michigan, and experts say it’s going to get worse before it gets better. Housing North’s recent needs assessment predicts that 31,000 sale and rental units will be needed in the area up through 2027. This figure has more than doubled from the estimates made only years earlier.

This is leaving many working-class and middle-class families unable to find housing, or afford it once they do find it — and many are moving elsewhere as a result. “…if we’re losing the working class, we’re going to start seeing a real impact on our economy,” Executive Director for Housing North Yarrow Brown said.

There are a number of factors behind this growing shortage, including limited amounts of new construction, an increase in out-of-state buyers snapping up property, and a general lack of affordable housing initiatives at the state level. The out-of-state buyers of property are particularly troublesome, as they decrease supply and increase demand — a guaranteed recipe for soaring prices.

While state and local agencies are looking for solutions to incentivize offering affordable housing and promote sustainable development, those solutions are small comfort to families searching for a home.

Household and families under strain

To make matters worse, the surge of inflation over the past year has made it difficult for households to make ends meet at all. Inflation raises the cost of everything, from food and fuel to mortgage and interest rates. As a result, many people are having to work two or even three jobs just to cover basic living expenses. This is just one more obstacle to home ownership for individuals and families trying to save up for a down payment.

Choosing against home ownership

With the state of the North Michigan housing market so dire, many formerly aspiring homeowners are opting to just abandon the idea — either temporarily or permanently.

Choosing for rental accommodations has its own set of advantages and disadvantages. While rental properties are also scarce in North Michigan — and rent prices high as a result — there are other expenses associated with home ownership that tenants don’t have to face. For example, maintenance, repairs, property taxes, and homeowners insurance are all the landlord’s responsibility. This is good news for tenants, as, according to Ross Martin at The Zebra, renter’s insurance costs a mere $155 a year, below the national average. Compare this to the cost of home insurance in Michigan, which is $1,176 annually.

Another reason to think about renting instead of buying: you won’t have to worry as much about repair bills from extreme weather events. Weather in North Michigan can be brutal at times, with strong winds and storms causing hazards like wind damage, fallen trees, and worse. With extreme weather events on the rise throughout the world, large payouts for property damage are becoming ever more common — and those large payouts get passed along to the consumers in the form of higher premiums.

It should also be noted that renters aren’t entirely off the hook for insurance, either. It’s been common practice for some years now for landlords to require potential tenants to agree in writing to pay renter’s insurance before they can move into a unit. While renter’s insurance is significantly lower than homeowner’s insurance, it’s still an expense that should be taken into account when looking at your budget.

What can you do?

While there’s not much you can do to keep insurance companies from raising their rates over time, there are a few steps you can take to try to mitigate those rising costs, and maybe even bring your premiums down a little.

One of the easiest ways to accomplish this is to shop around and compare quotes to find the best cheap home insurance in Michigan. You might get a much lower rate at, say, State Farm than you would at Allstate. Different insurers often cater to different markets, so don’t be afraid to do some checking and see if you can get a better deal elsewhere.

If you choose to stick with your current insurer — or just want to bring those bills down even further once you do switch — there are a few more strategies you can deploy to try to save a bit of cash. Consider raising your deductible, for one thing. You’ll pay less in monthly premiums, but pay more out of pocket in case of a claim. You might also consider asking for discounts, or fortifying your home with storm windows, reinforced doors, and home security systems to decrease your risk.

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