Homes & Real Estate

Michigan’s Economy Hits 10 Year High

The Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) reports that Michigan’s economy has reached a 10-year high, according to Comerica Bank’s Michigan Economic Activity Index. The June index jumped 2.0 points in June, spiking to a level of 105.9 – its highest level since 2002. The index has averaged 102 points over the first half of 2012, 11 points above the index average for all of 2011.

“The Michigan economy pushed further ahead in June, with our Michigan Economic Activity Index up strongly for the second month,” said Robert Dye, Chief Economist at Comerica Bank. “The rate of job creation has slowed over the first two quarters of the year as U.S. auto sales have plateaued around a 14 million unit annual sales rate in 2012. But outside of durable goods manufacturing, we are seeing ongoing gains. Housing markets statewide are improving as sales and prices increase. New home construction remains low, but is expected to increase to meet pent up demand.”

The Michigan Economic Activity Index consists of seven variables: nonfarm payrolls, exports, sales tax revenues, hotel occupancy rates, continuing claims for unemployment insurance, building permits, and motor vehicle production. All data are seasonally adjusted, as necessary, and indexed to a base year of 2004.

According to the Michigan Association of Realtors, the number of single family homes sold in Michigan rose 14 percent in July compared to one year earlier. The July 2012 average sales price was $116,116, a 6.55 percent increase over the 2011.

Overall, Michigan is leading the country in economic recovery, according to the Detroit News. The dropping unemployment rate, upswing in home sales and increase in consumer spending are all evidence of a positive outlook for the Great Lakes state.

  • NMC Mobile Classroom
    Permalink Gallery

    Tour the Lake Winds Energy Park at the 2012 Michigan Energy Fair

Tour the Lake Winds Energy Park at the 2012 Michigan Energy Fair

Every year the  Great Lakes Renewable Energy Association (GLREA) holds their annual Michigan Energy Fair (MEF). The Energy Fair takes place June 22-24, 2012 and it’s at a new location, the Mason County Fairgrounds in Ludington.

The location will allow the MEF to feature tours of Consumers Energy’s Lake Winds Energy Park that is currently under construction. This 100-megawatt installation will hold over 50 wind turbines, and the tour will give you a unique opportunity to see wind turbines as they are being constructed.

This is exactly the kind of opportunity to get up close and personal with the technology and people who are creating Michigan’s new energy economy that MEF offers. With a focus on Michigan’s energy future options and how Michigan’s businesses and families can save energy and money, the Energy Fair will feature over 50 workshops and 40 exhibitors of energy technologies and sustainable products for homes and businesses, including how to finance renewable energy projects.

For more information, please contact Samantha Keeney at or 517-646-6269 and get details at Also don’t miss this interview with John Sarver, Executive Director of the GLREA about the Michigan Energy Fair.

The Daily Michigan: A giclee print from Mark S. Carson

Sleeping Bear Dunes by Mark S. Carlson

Today on The Daily Michigan we’re giving away a custom giclee printed image of your choice from photographer Mark S. Carlson.

Mark is one of our featured partners in The Daily Michigan, and if you’re the winner you can choose from any on his website or his artist Facebook page. The 12 X 18″ image will be archivally printed on 13 X 19″ matte paper, personally signed beneath the bottom, right-hand corner of the image, accompanied by a description label ready to be adhered to the back of the print finished image, then packaged in a heavy cardboard tube and Priority mailed to you!

We are featuring this beautiful photo from the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore for two reasons – one is that we have a very cool giveaway related to the dunes on tap for tomorrow and another is that Mark has a cool eco/photo tour coming up in May in the heart of the Sleeping Bear. Springtime is right around the corner and this tour lets you enjoy it in style with wonderful lodging, excellent photography instruction and the most picturesque subject matter you’ll find in the Great Lakes State, GUARANTEED! Details at

Click here to sign up (if you’re not already registered)

March Michigan Event Calendar

Our monthly calendar contains a selection of what’s cool to do in Michigan. If you have an event to share, please POST IT IN THE COMMENTS. We read them all and might add yours, but if you email us, we simply can’t add the event!

If your event is ticketed and you would like to give tickets away to promote it, please go to this page!

Approaching Spring by mayerdavid1978

Our Michigan event calendar for the month of March features all kinds of signs that spring is just around the corner with some cautious reminders that objects around the corner may be further off than they appear.


“March is a tomboy with tousled hair, a mischievous smile, mud on her shoes
and a laugh in her voice.” – Hal Borland

“It was one of those March days when the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold: when it is summer in the light, and winter in the shade.” – Charles Dickens

“Springtime is the land awakening. The March winds are the morning yawn.” – Lewis Grizzard

“Spring is when you feel like whistling even with a shoe full of slush.” – Doug Larson

“Spring is nature’s way of saying, Let’s party!” – Robin Williams

Fast Facts

March’s birthstone is Aquamarine and Bloodstone. They symbolize courage.

Its birth flower is the Narcissus.

March in the Southern Hemisphere is the seasonal equivalent of September in the Northern Hemisphere.

Daylight-Savings time occurs on March 13, 2010, at 2:00 AM – time to spring ahead!

Think spring! The vernal equinox occurs on March 20, 2011, at 11:21  PM EDT.

Urban Farming and The Kings of Flint

“What we’re trying to do is a systems change. We’re trying to build up a small, local economy that’s place based – that can’t pick up and go somewhere else.”
~Stephen Arellano, Ruth Mott Foundation in Flint

Mallory Horton Waters Plants in the GreenHouse at Harvesting Earth Urban Garden
Mallory Horton Waters Plants in the
GreenHouse at Harvesting Earth Urban
Garden by Michigan Municipal League (MML)

Click for slideshow from MML!

Last week we featured Urban Farming and the Gift of Detroit. Detroit is not the only Michigan city that is turning to urban farming as a means of economic development and simple subsistence.

The Kings of Flint is a documentary that features Jacky and Dora King, of King Karate. Jackie and Dora are also Master Gardeners who see farming as not only a means of self defense – Jackie points out that historically martial arts students have also been farmers – but also as a way to revitalize Flint. They use the discipline of farming and hard work to help their students prepare to meet the challenges that growing up in Flint present.

Tree cities bloom in Michigan

Great Lakes Echo is a project of the Knight Center for Environmental Journalism at Michigan State University. The site uses Creative Commons reporting to to help the news community cover the environment of the Great Lakes watershed. Absolute Michigan supports the mission of Great Lakes Echo and regularly features articles they produce.

by Sara Qamar

More than 100 Michigan communities have been honored under the Tree City USA program that promotes the economic, health and aesthetic benefits of trees on public property.

Main Street Rockford by Eridony
Main Street Rockford by Eridony

Some benefits of trees, such as energy conservation and savings on heating and cooling costs, are important economic factors, said Department of Natural Resources (DNR) urban forestry program coordinator Kevin Sayers.

“Properly planted trees in areas that might shade a building or shade an air conditioning unit are seen to help a lot in energy savings. They can block cold winter winds and minimize heating costs during winter,” he said.

Trees can also affect the price of homes, he said.

“Real estate studies show that properties which have well-maintained landscapes and mature trees are worth more,” he said.

Alpena received its 12th Tree City USA designation this year, city engineer Rich Sullenger said.

Toy Town by lefeber
Toy Town by lefeber

It’s among 119 communities in the program this year. Others include Grand Rapids, Ann Arbor, Allegan, Brighton, Charlevoix, Big Rapids, Ionia and Rockford.

“There’s nothing prettier than looking down a tree-lined street in the summer. That’s a huge benefit to the community. Anytime I personally I see a tree, it’s a lot more pleasing than seeing a barren section of property,” Sullenger said.

Rockford, which was one of two new Michigan honorees this year, has had a longstanding comprehensive tree program which included planting 100 trees a year, city manager Michael Young said. The other is Clio.

Rockford is an older community that has expanded in recent years and has many mature trees, but citizens like greenery in newer developments as well, he said.

Click above for more about the program including how your community can enroll!

Click above for more about the program including how your community can enroll!

“It’s really important to blend our newer parts with the old parts, and trees are that common thread,” he said.

One program the city will start this year is purchasing and planting a tree for each baby born in Rockford, he said.

The tree most planted is the maple, which residents appreciate because of the different colors its leaves turn, Young said.

One of the chronic problems DNR deals with about the program is convincing communities to diversify their tree selections from maple.

Sayers said uniformity can cause diseases to spread more easily.

“I don’t promote planting any particular one. I encourage diversifying and planting the tree that’s right for the location,” he said.

Competition among neighboring communities and citizens’ grassroots efforts have helped the program grow in Michigan in the last 10 years, he said.

“There’s a growing sense of responsibility to do something in terms of environmental initiatives. Local citizens are working with the city to get this designation,” he said.

Tree City USA operated by the Arbor Day Foundation, a nonprofit group in Nebraska.

The program requires no application fee. The only condition is that communities spend $2 per resident on anything related to trees. That could include planting, annual leaf pickup, purchasing equipment and other care and management, he said.

5×5 Night in Grand Rapids

5 ideas, 5 minutes each, 5 slides each, 5 judges, 5,000 dollars

5×5 Night is a monthly event in Grand Rapids that allows 5 people to pitch their ideas to a panel of judges who decide how to award $5,000 on the last Tuesday night of every month. The third 5×5 happens tomorrow night at the Grand Rapids Ballet with an afterglow at Founders Brewery. Tomorrow night’s presenters and topics sound pretty interesting:

  • Bruce Burgess – Mull-it-Over
  • Mick Hanna – Easy Crutch
  • Phil Lund – The Mars Plan
  • William Stewart – Compression Beehive Frame
  • Charlie Wollborg – Face-to-Face > Pixel-to-Pixel

Michigan Radio has a cool interview with Rick DeVos and Bill Holsinger Robinson of Pomegranate Studios about 5×5 Night. Learn more at and Pomegranate Studios.

Last month AJ Paschka got all five votes and $5000 for his very cool Weather Collage idea, but we’ll feature Landon Bartley’s more locally focused call for a Grand Rapids Sister City Window Webcam Project. You can check out all the pitches on the 5×5 channel.

Photo: Prepping for the first 5×5 Night at the GRAM by

Lansing Home and Garden Show ~ March 17-20, 2011

Lansing Home & Garden ShowThe 2011 Lansing Home & Garden Show transforms the MSU Pavilion on the campus of Michigan State University with incredible gardens, extensive landscaping projects, a flower show, four free seminar stages and hundreds of exhibits featuring construction, remodeling, kitchens & baths, retail garden centers, pools and spas and home services. Seminar topics are wide-ranging and include the latest trends in energy efficiency, fix-it tips, interior design, cooking & grilling demonstrations and gardening maintenence and design. There are also a dozen demonstration gardens and workshops and activities designed for kids.

Admission is $8 for adults and $4 for kids (under 5 free) and Saturday is Kids Day – 14 & under get in FREE before noon. Discount coupons and more information are available online!

As you start thinking about home improvement & gardening this spring, don’t forget to check Absolute Michigan for great businesses specializing in furniture & appliances, home decor & interior design, home improvement & repair and landscaping & gardens from all over the state who can help you take your home to the next level!

Earl Young’s Charlevoix Cottages

Charlevoix - Mushroom House by ktylerconk
Charlevoix – Mushroom House by ktylerconk

In the “things I found while looking at other things” category comes Quirky cottages in Charlevoix are winter delights from the Detroit Free Press.

Earl Young tourism is a Charlevoix specialty. The quirky builder erected 30 stone homes in town between 1918 and the 1950s, all so unusual they are often compared to works of art. Some look like mushroom houses, with undulating roofs capping boulder walls. Some are tiny. Some are enormous. Most have incredible detail — doorways of stone, window frames made of boulders, chimneys that look frosted by a giddy cake decorator. The early houses are arts and crafts or chalet style, but the later homes are rounded and organic, part Tolkien, part Keebler elf.

More about Earl Young’s cottages at the Freep including a number of Earl Young houses that are available as vacation rentals including Charlevoix’s fixture The Weathervane. View more Earl Young House photos from the Charlevoix Historical Society, check out the Earl Young Guidebook and take a video tour of the Earl Young Hobbit Houses in Charlevoix with MyNorth.

Postcard: Weathervane Terrrace Inn & Suites, Charlevoix, MIchigan by fantomaster
Postcard: Weathervane Terrrace Inn & Suites,
Charlevoix, MIchigan by fantomaster

The best resource is the Earl Young Collection at the Charlevoix Library. With everything from the ad for Earl’s first development, Boulder Park and the opening of the Weathervane to an article on his book Charlevoix the Beautiful, there’s some great stuff to be explored! Let’s close with a bit from another  article from the Freep on Young, this one from July 29, 1973 that begins:

Stone houses seem to sprout as naturally as dandelions from the soil of this pleasant Lake Michigan resort community.

And they do because of an already legendary 84-year-old man named Earl A. Young, who built them all.

For more than half a century Young has combed lonesome fields and dusty quarries searching for the odds and ends of nature. He blends stones and timber with an architect’s skill and a geologist’s respect for his raw material, and so far he has fitted more than 40 local landscapes with his art.

“l have a very strong feeling for stone,” Young explained recently as he sat in his wood-paneled office on the lower level of one of his most flamboyant creations, the Weathervane Inn, a local restaurant.

“Stones have their own personalities. People say I’m crazy when I say so, but they really do. Why I found a stone that weighed 160 tons. It was formed 350 million years ago at the bottom of a warm sea and was carried here 10,000 years ago by glaciers.”

Will “rightsizing” make Detroit strong again?

Need a new home? Here's 500 abandoned ones all in the same area by DetroitDerek Photography
Need a new home? Here’s 500 abandoned ones all
in the same area by DetroitDerek Photography

Once boasting a population of nearly 2 million, the population of the city of Detroit stands at somewhere between 750,000 and 800,000 residents. Detroit Free Press has a good look at Detroit Mayor Dave Bing’s plan to offer incentives next year to concentrate city residents in core areas that will serve as population centers for a newly configured city. It’s part of his Detroit Works Project and he says:

“We’re going to be encouraging them to move and put themselves in a better situation. … They are much better off moving into a more dense area so that we can provide them with the services they need: that would be water, sewer, lighting, public safety — all of that,” Bing said. “We think that getting our city to be more dense with its population is the right route.”

…City officials say they have identified at least seven to nine population centers that would encompass two-thirds of the city’s 139 square miles. That would leave about 45 square miles, though some of that land is already public park space. The availability of strong schools, nonprofits, churches, parks, community development organizations and medical centers — along with housing stock, income and many other indicators — will continue to be considered in developing the neighborhood plan, officials say.

Bing says there will be incentives for people to move, but many in the city worry that relocation will not go well. You can read Bing’s interview with the Freep and hear what the Mayor is saying about “rightsizing” Detroit below (thanks Rethinking Detroit for the find):