Detroit’s exurbs still see new home construction

“COMING SOON” says Pulte Homes at one development nearby. “SORRY, I’M TAKEN” a sign in front of an under-construction home at another declares.

Rakesh Gangwani, who does land acquisition with RE/MAX Dream Properties in Northville, said he’s stayed busy as buyers prioritize more modern living spaces that they don’t have to renovate. New houses better match current preferences for space and layout, he said, and purchase prices still allow buyers to get more for their money than they would closer to Detroit.

Boji, with the Greater Metropolitan Association of Realtors, said work-from-home options have left people less concerned about long commutes and more willing to prioritize having space and access to the outdoors. Farther out, he said, buyers can find new homes that fit both their needs and their wants. Instead of buying a house that’s walking distance to a coffee shop, Boji said, exurban purchasers can build a large patio where they can drink their coffee while watching deer in their yard.

“The geography of home building has shifted over the last two-and-a-half years, with more single-family and multifamily construction occurring in lower density markets,” National Association of Home Builders Chief Economist Robert Dietz said in a statement this month. “This shift was first caused by the initial impact of (the coronavirus pandemic) on housing demand, which favored lower density neighborhoods. The shift continued in recent months due to housing affordability conditions that are causing both prospective renters and buyers to expand their geographic search for housing, aided by hybrid work patterns that allow for a combination of remote and office work.”

Scott Schwanke, the area president of M/I Homes in Michigan, said the “Final Opportunity” development, called Oak Ridge in Lyon Township, started selling a little over two years ago, with prices in the low to mid-$500,000 range. Now, the last home is listed for $690,000 and a second phase of the project is being built out.