A central tenet of business looms large over the housing market in Michigan: supply and demand. Across America -- and in parts of Michigan -- as the U.S. economy slowly continues to improve, it is providing people with comparatively more money than they've had for several years. One noticeable result is that, in a growing number of places, there are more people who want to buy a home (a.k.a demand) against the supply of homes available to buy (a.k.a supply). This tends to drive home prices upwards. But each specific housing market is unique, and this is certainly true in Michigan. Fortunately, things are looking up in the  Metro Detroit area

Supply and Demand In a Nutshell… and What It Means in Michigan

When broken down to its bare essentials, the economic concept of supply and demand is an easy one: When demand goes up, prices rise, and if supplies are scarce, items are more expensive. Of course, this is the laboratory version of things, and things like housing markets are highly complex.

In product manufacturing, for suppliers of goods, creating goods is fairly straightforward. For example, if you are a manufacturer, you agree with suppliers on prices for the raw materials or components you need, you build the product and then attach a price to finished goods.

But demand is tricky to gauge. Sellers try to determine the number of buyers they expect for their product. They must make educated guesses because the variables on the buyer’s side are numerous and buyers can be fickle. When it comes to real estate there are simply many factors beyond the seller’s control, from tax policies to interest rates to the ever-fluctuating American economy as a whole. It's a moving target, and a lot of factors have to be considered. What's more, the past may not be the key to setting home price points -- after all, we live in challenging times.

When there is strong demand for housing, there is a tendency for the most attractive, move-in-ready properties to receive a disproportionately large number of bids compared to properties that are considered less attractive. This potentially drives up the prices of these high-demand homes, while the homes in lower demand often remain in indefinite limbo. According to data released by Realcomp, a Farmington Hills MLS and quoted in the Detroit Free Press, The inventory of homes for sale in metro Detroit dropped 16.7% in June to 19,433, contrasted with 23,315 in June 2011. Nearly half, or 45%, of sales in July were cash sales, and homes sold on average nine days faster, with 81 days on the market.

It appears that the upward trend is due to several interconnected factors including low interest rates, relatively lower prices on homes and American consumers' gradually increasing confidence in their local economy.
 
For evidence of the upturn in Michigan's real estate market, consider information from Farmington Hills multiple listing service, Realcomp. They reported that home sales rose more than 5 percent in metro Detroit compared to the same time frame a year ago. In fact, each of the counties in the Detroit metropolitan area – Macomb, Livingston, Oakland and Wayne – reported increased home sales in June 2012:
 
Macomb: 12.6% 
Livingston: 11%
Oakland: 0.8%
Wayne: 0.5%
 
This is good news and while the economy and the housing market face challenges, the data are showing improvement.
 
Still, in some parts of Michigan those with property for sale are still feeling the pinch even while demand creeps upwards. This is because, overall, home prices in the state have taken a big hit since 2000. For some sellers, home prices are still low enough that selling property without incurring a major financial loss is incredibly difficult. In short, supply and demand are exerting their influence, but the market is still recovering from a decade of tough times.

Overall, if the economy continues to improve, increasing demand will drive prices higher. Total recovery won’t come overnight, but the housing market continues to strengthen.