Homeowners were happy and many buyers were flustered in 2018 as average home values rose 8.9% here, per the Grand Rapids Association of Realtors (GRAR). At year-end, the average sales price was $226,349 based on 12,520 properties sold. These include single-family homes, investment properties, condos and vacant land.

In suburban school districts, values increased from a minimum of 5.0% in Rockford schools to a high of 13.6% for Lowell schools. Two school districts, Grandville and Jenison, even saw sales prices exceed final listing prices -- a testament to bidding wars fueled by multiple offers from strong buyer demand.

What will 2019 bring for West Michigan? We're hoping for more inventory for buyers to pick from. More listings will lead to a moderation in sales prices. Long-term, the housing market is better off with 3% to 5% average yearly value growth vs. inflation-inducing rates of 7% to 9%. The higher the average sales price, the tougher it is for first-time buyers to gain a foothold in the housing market.

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Have a great winter and stay warm!

-- Bob & Lisa Novosad