Image from Journey Into Sleeping Bear Dunes, a DVD available at MyNorth.com/dunesvideo
When Good Morning America viewers recently named Leelanau Peninsula’s Sleeping Bear Dunes the “Most Beautiful Place in America” I’m sure a lot of people assumed we pay a heavy premium for living here. After all, look at the average cost of a home in other nine finalist locales. I did and you might be surprised with the results:
Aspen, CO -- According to Yahoo Real Estate, the median home in Aspen, Colorado is currently valued at a hefty $7,155,000. Beautiful -- yes, trendy – always. But a little Rocky Mountain high for my tastes.
Jackson Hole, WY – Relatively speaking, it gets a little more “reasonable” in Jackson Hole, near the Grand Tetons. The current median value for a single family residence has sunk to a recent low of just $1,440,000. At Aspen standards, that’s cheap at twice the price.
Lanikai Beach, HI – Sorry, Honolulu was the closest metropolitan area I could find that listed housing stats on the Island of Oahu where Lanikai Beach is located. This probably understates the median home value near the beach somewhat, but for Honolulu Yahoo lists the current average home value at a brisk $1,048,626.
Point Reyes, CA – Since technically there is no town there, I had to go down the coast a bit to Bodega Bay to find median home values. The median value of a home at Bodega Bay is $737,100. Lest you think I was cheating to inflate the price, the other alternative was to head south to San Francisco where you could add nearly $200,000 to that median value figure. I chose to err on the conservative side.
Destin, FL – This beautiful little beachfront community on the Florida panhandle has a median home value of $701,100. Like many areas on this list, they show lower recent sales figures (many under $300,000) but “sales” do not reflect typical housing for that community. People have simply been shopping the low end of the spectrum lately.
Sedona, AZ – Ah, the mystical red rock area of the southwest. You’ve got to love it. You’ll pay a median price of about $625,122 to discover your own personal convergence where aura meets practicality as you weigh buying in this area.
Newport, RI – If you’re into history and charm amidst the northeastern urban corridor, Newport is a great place for you. You’ll find a median home value of about $490,000 within Newport city limits.
Cape Cod, MA -- This has been a tough area to accumulate accurate information. The local Board of Realtors tracks “sales” rather than values, but that usually understates actual values in the area, since in this market lower cost homes are selling more frequently while more well-heeled homeowners can afford to hang onto their expensive real estate. Local property assessments are handled by individual towns and municipalities so no help there. This said, the Cape Cod and Islands Association of Realtors reports that the average sale price for homes so far in 2011 is $448,407. I presume the Kennedy compound goes for a bit more.
Asheville, NC -- In an area that prides itself both in affordability and beauty, the town of Asheville delivers on both counts. Yahoo Real Estate lists the median home value at a relatively reasonable sounding $293,000.
And then there’s Leelanau County … home of Sleeping Bear Dunes, winner of ABC’s Good Morning America’s Most Beautiful Place in America … the piece of heaven I now call home. Beautiful Leelanau County is once again the winner – THE FINALIST WITH THE LOWEST MEDIAN HOME VALUE. The median home value in Leelanau County according to tax-rates.org is $239,200. Sure, there’s a lot more to the county than Sleeping Bear Dunes. We all can’t walk to park land (like I and many of my friends can). But with miles of lakeshore, dunes, inland lakes and preserved forests to explore, even the casual observer has to agree that those thousands of Good Morning America knew a beautiful thing when they saw it. And it’s affordable! Who knew?!
William Wheadon is a real estate agent at Century 21, you can reach him at bill.wheadon@c21Northland.com.