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Posted on Sun, Feb 3, 2013 : 5:58 a.m.

Washtenaw County residential property values 'stabilizing and improving' in 2013

By Lizzy Alfs


Initial residential property assessments show Ypsilanti home values up 1.58 percent. The average home sale in Ypsilanti was also up 16.8 percent in 2012 over 2011. (1112 Pearl St. pictured here)

Courtney Sacco |

The 2013 residential property assessments across Washtenaw County show increases in 18 of 25 municipalities — an improvement for the fourth consecutive year.

Initial assessment reports by the county’s equalization department shows seven communities experienced a drop in home values, ranging from less than 1 percent to 4 percent.

“Those are very minor decreases,” said Washtenaw County Equalization Department director Raman Patel.

“Property values have been stabilizing and improving,” he continued.

The communities with the highest gains in residential property values include: Salem Township (6.95 percent), Milan (5.7 percent), Chelsea (3.92 percent), Scio Township (3.51 percent), Saline (3.19 percent), and Webster Township (3.19 percent).

The largest value drops were in Sharon Township (4 percent), Bridgewater Township (1.93 percent), and Lodi Township (1.54 percent).

The changes reflect averages across a community and individual homeowners will still see variations in their own assessed values, Patel said. And because the county data excludes short sales and foreclosures, certain neighborhoods could find more intense pricing pressures.

“This is a lot better than last year and the year before, so the market is coming back, but it’s still going to take a couple years,” Patel said.

“When I say the market is stabilizing, it doesn’t mean nobody will get an increase (in value) or nobody will get a decrease,” he continued.

The county studies home sales from 2010 and 2011 to determine the values and homeowners are mailed new assessments — along with a separate taxable value — by early March. Owners can then appeal assessments at Board of Review meetings that month. Assessed values are based on 50 percent of market value as required by Michigan law.

Overall, Washtenaw County shows a roughly 2 percent gain in home values. Ann Arbor averages a 2.71 gain, while Ypsilanti averages a 1.58 percent gain in value — a major improvement over last year’s 8 percent drop.

In 2012, residential property values only increased in eight communities. In 2011, four communities saw value increases. In 2009, none of the communities experienced gains and 14 had double-digit losses.

Ypsilanti's value gain is indicative of increasing sale prices. Although the average home sale in 2012 was the county's lowest at $96,636, it marks a 16.8 percent increase over 2011.

"Ypsilanti used to go down (in value) a lot," Patel said. "It's improving."

"I think we're very cautiously optimistic," said Ypsilanti city planner Teresa Gillotti. "With the (housing market) decline so many years in a row, we weren't expecting it would swing back up quite yet...our tax base took a huge hit last year in particular, so it's nice to see it even going up a little."

Countywide, the average home sale price in 2012 was $210,616, according to the Ann Arbor Area Board of Realtors. Since 2009, sale prices in the county have increased by 15.5 percent, although sale prices are still below the county’s high of $266,600 in 2005.

“Most of the submarkets…are at least trending in the right direction,” said Peter Hendershot, an appraiser with Affinity Valuation Group in Ann Arbor. “They’re still below 2006 values, but they’re at least trending in an upward direction.”

Meanwhile, local Realtors are reporting low inventory levels and increasing demand from buyers in Washtenaw County.

“We’ve returned to low inventory, high demand, increasing average sale price and lower days on the market,” said Real Estate One’s Matt Dejanovich in a previous report on

Hendershot said foreclosure activity in the county is also declining, although Realtytrac still ranks Michigan 7th nationally in the number of foreclosures. Hendershot said there were about 36 foreclosures per month in the county in 2010, compared with 31 per month in 2012.

“There’s still a lot of inventory out there, but at least it’s declining,” he said.

Below are the initial residential property assessments from the county for 2013, separated by municipality and with value losses bolded:


  • Ann Arbor 2.71
  • Chelsea 3.92
  • Milan 5.7
  • Saline 3.19
  • Ypsilanti 1.58


  • Ann Arbor 1.72
  • Augusta -1.48
  • Bridgewater -1.93
  • Dexter 2.29
  • Freedom -.76
  • Lima 1.15
  • Lodi -1.54
  • Lyndon .26
  • Manchester 1.56
  • Northfield 2.39
  • Pittsfield 3
  • Salem 6.95
  • Saline .96
  • Scio 3.51
  • Sharon -4
  • Superior .52
  • Sylvan -.34
  • Webster 3.19
  • York 5.6 percent
  • Ypsilanti -.24

Lizzy Alfs is a business reporter for Reach her at 734-623-2584 or email her at Follow her on Twitter at


Dog Guy

Sun, Feb 3, 2013 : 2:53 p.m.

"The 2013 residential property assessments across Washtenaw County show increases in 18 of 25 municipalities — an improvement for the fourth consecutive year." The basic rule of local government: if you can't pass more millage, raise the assessments.

Stephen Lange Ranzini

Sun, Feb 3, 2013 : 1:42 p.m.

@thinker: I can't speak for any other bank, but our bank has sold every house we've had to acquire, with the exception of a house under contract, and some houses we just got handed the keys to in the past 60 days. Banks have a strong incentive to quickly sell foreclosed property because if a bank holds too many non-performing loans or foreclosed properties, it is shut down by the FDIC.


Mon, Feb 4, 2013 : 4:52 a.m.

People simply don't want to sell their houses until they're worth more money.

Stephen Lange Ranzini

Sun, Feb 3, 2013 : 4:53 p.m.

@thinker: Government regulations currently discourage banks from providing residential project construction loans to home building firms, because huge losses were incurred on that type of lending after the real estate bubble popped by those banks that were heavily involved in them. About the only exception to that is multi-family and student apartment construction loans, but loans for subdivisions are currently discouraged.


Sun, Feb 3, 2013 : 2:11 p.m.

Then what is accounting for the dearth of houses?


Sun, Feb 3, 2013 : 1:05 p.m.

Why are there so few homes for sale? Is it because banks have purchased the foreclosures and short sales and are renting them out instead of putting them up for sale? I would like a true and honest answer to this question.


Mon, Feb 4, 2013 : 6:13 p.m.

I have a family who was looking to buy a foreclosure or shor sale home for the last 6 months and what they have found is many of the listing real estate people do not return e-mails or phone calls, many have know idea what is going on with the homes they have listed. She has put a bid in on 6 different homes, one real estate agent after the inspection came back the property need a new well after 5 weeks has still not returned her $4,000 dollar deposit. So...."thinker" if you are looking for a foreclosurer or short sale they are not easy to get and many have sat empty or are in very poor shape unless you are willing to pay $100,000 dollars or more.

Basic Bob

Sun, Feb 3, 2013 : 2:33 p.m.

No one wants to sell a house and lose money. Most homeowners are optimistic that prices will improve. Until then, they hang on to what they have. Moving up in the market is difficult when there is a chance you might get stuck with your old home.


Sun, Feb 3, 2013 : 2:25 p.m.

People who used to move "up" are holding put as they are underwater or have not recouped any of the value they have invested.

Fresh Start

Sun, Feb 3, 2013 : 1:11 p.m.

The banks are holding them to artificially drive demand. We still have a long long long way to go.

Stephen Lange Ranzini

Sun, Feb 3, 2013 : 11:51 a.m.

For all jurisdictions but those still suffering a decline, this is excellent news not just for struggling underwater home owners, but on many levels: it's good for government budgets, local businesses, job growth, and getting the moribund home building industry back on it's feet. The following article and a related MLive one notes that the population of Washtenaw County rose 3,171 (0.9%) just during 2011, to 347,962: This is just 741 below the growth expected in the entire 10 years from 2010 to 2020, when the population is expected by SEMCOG to be 352,616. At this pace of growth, if sustained, the county could meet SEMCOG's 2040 population projection of 384,735 by mid-2021, 19 years early. When the supply of homes in a market is less than seven months inventory versus the number of transactions per month, prices rise. Overall at the moment in the county, there is only a three month supply of homes on the market. Since the county is rapidly growing jobs and population, until some dynamic changes (such as a nationwide recession), home prices will rise except in those few local areas where there is still more than seven months supply.


Sun, Feb 3, 2013 : 1:15 p.m.

The time frame is a bit short to call it a trend and make projections. Home sales are more impacted by low supply right now than anything else.