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Published: Wednesday, 1/25/2006

Bedford Township: Officials see dip in single-family home starts

BY LARRY P. VELLEQUETTE
BLADE STAFF WRITER

TEMPERANCE - Bedford Township officials say the high number of new, single-family homes begun in 2004 may be more of an anomaly than first believed after starts in 2005 dropped almost 34 percent from the previous year.

The township recorded 159 new, single-family home and condominium starts for 2005, preliminary records show. In 2004, the township recorded 240 new homes and condominiums begun.

"I think we're actually seeing a slight slowdown, probably due to the interest rates going up and people being more cautious," said Dennis Jenkins, Bedford Township's planning and zoning coordinator. "But I don't think it's bottoming out by any means."

According to the most recent census estimate by the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments, Monroe County's population has grown by approximately 6.1 percent since the 2000 census, leaving the county with an estimated 154,814 residents as of 2005.

Bedford Township alone accounted for nearly a third of that growth, gaining an estimated 2,665 residents over the last five years to give Monroe County's most populous municipality an estimated population of 31,271 in 2005.

Over the same period, SEMCOG estimates indicate that Bedford Township picked up an additional 1,561 "units" of housing, an increase of 14.6 percent to a total of 12,220 units. The five-year boom was more than double the number of new homes in any other single municipality in the county.

Mr. Jenkins said any slowdown that might be occurring locally probably has far less to do with Bedford Township than it

According to the most recent census estimate by the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments, Monroe County's population has grown by approximately 6.1 percent since the 2000 census, leaving the county with an estimated 154,814 residents as of 2005.

Bedford Township alone accounted for nearly a third of that growth, gaining an estimated 2,665 residents over the last five years to give Monroe County's most populous municipality an estimated population of 31,271 in 2005.

Over the same period, SEMCOG estimates indicate that Bedford Township picked up an additional 1,561 "units" of housing, an increase of 14.6 percent to a total of 12,220 units. The five-year boom was more than double the number of new homes in any other single municipality in the county.

Mr. Jenkins said any slowdown that might be occurring locally probably has far less to do with Bedford Township than it does with economic conditions across Michigan and elsewhere in the midwest.

"I don't think it's the popularity of the community. I think it's the economy more than anything," Mr. Jenkins said.

There are definite trends within the housing-start data that may bear out some of Mr. Jenkins' theories. He said there are definitely fewer homes being built that would be initially marketed in the $300,000 to $500,000 range now than in years past, while there has been a steady increase in new homes being built for sale for between $175,000 and $225,000.

Township assessor Barb Blake said she's also noticing definite trends emerging in the local market for existing homes.

"It seems like anything above $300,000 is sitting on the market for as much as a year or two years," Ms. Blake said.

Subsequently, she said sales prices for such homes have begun to more accurately reflect their assessed values, or at least more so than they have in the past.

"We used to regularly see sale prices for high-end homes that were $20,000 or more over what our assessment was. Now those numbers are either right there, or the sale price may actually be less than the assessed value. That's a big change," Ms. Blake said.



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