Disappearing shoreline prompts some to sell homes

Rising Waters

LAKETON TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — The rising waters and aggressive erosion along the lakeshore is beginning to take a toll on the real estate market.

Driving up and down Scenic Drive in Muskegon County, you can’t help but notice more for sale signs than usual. Realtor Sandi Gentry, who represents several homes listed along the lakeshore, said some of her clients have decided to sell due to erosion.

“I feel like some of my older clients … it concerns them and so yes, I have had quite a few of them put their properties on the market just because they don’t want to worry about it anymore.” Gentry said.

Gentry has been in the business for 30 years, but it was just this last year that she came across her first listing too dangerous to sell. As a result, they decided it was best to take the home, located on North Shore Drive near Spring Lake, temporarily off the market.

“It was unsafe to show the property,” Gentry said. “I didn’t want anyone to walk around the house. That would be a liability for myself and for the buyer’s agent and my seller, so we took it off the market.

The seller has since put in a seawall, also known as a rock revetment wall, in an effort to stop erosion from eating away more of the property.

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Gentry said many lakeshore sellers have had to do the same or similar, installing some sort of erosion prevention measure because it’s an important feature to prospective buyers. However, the cost can be steep and in the end, it gets tacked on to the asking price.

“My client … had to put in the rock revetment and it adds about $100,000 and so now I have to try and sell that property for $100,000 more than where they were before the fact of putting in the rock revetment,” Gentry said.

Surprisingly, she said, erosion concerns hasn’t scared away many buyers. Only in the most severe of cases does it lower the price.

“(Buyers) still want to get a good deal but they do understand that it’s Lake Michigan,” she said. “If everything is in place to prevent the erosion, then I haven’t had any issues with them being concerned to purchase the property.”

Many of the buyers share the same belief as Gentry, hoping what’s gone today will return in the years to come.

“I think history repeats itself, just like we saw after 1986, and that we will get our beach back,” she said.

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