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Sunday, 10 November 2013 22:00

West Michigan attracts more outside real estate investors

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Grand Rapids seems to wind up on a new “best of” list almost every other week.

As a growing region, the city markets those titles — and rightfully so — as validation that it’s not the dying city Newsweek once proclaimed it to be.

But it’s long been the case that the West Michigan region as place to invest in real estate remains a sort of best-kept secret outside the state.

However, it seems that cat has been let out of the bag, said Colin Kraay, principal with Colliers International in Grand Rapids and a member of the office’s investment group.

“We’ve been pretty active over the last couple of quarters. Interest rates remain low, which is helping drive people to investment deals,” he said. “I would say Grand Rapids as a whole — probably more than any other time over the last decade — is increasingly being looked at as a stable, quality place for outside investors to look at possible secondary market investment.”

There were high volumes of out-of-state real estate investors looking at the market in 2006 and 2007, but compared to the level of interest from investors today, Kraay said it exceeds anytime he can remember in recent history.

Of the investors Colliers is working with now, many are looking at Grand Rapids and the West Michigan market for the first time, while others are searching for their second and third deals here, he said.

“Grand Rapids historically as a secondary market has maybe been a little too small, a little too manufacturing-focused to get larger, out-of-town people to seriously look at the market,” Kraay said. “Certainly, what’s happened downtown — both culturally and with regard to the overall infrastructure we’ve put in place — is driving people’s interest here.”

Kraay pointed to a September CareerBuilder/EMSI report that pegged Grand Rapids as second in the nation in per capita job growth from 2010 to 2013. The report stated that the Grand Rapids metro area is a hotspot for manufacturing and health care jobs.

“We are more than ever the cultural hub of West Michigan,” Kraay said. “Most of these investors are starting to run out of opportunities and required return rates in major markets like Chicago and Indianapolis, and they are starting to look at places like Grand Rapids to fill the void. Grand Rapids is increasingly looked at (in the same terms) as a Columbus, Ohio or Milwaukee market, whereas historically that never was the case.”

As outside investors turn their attention to Grand Rapids and West Michigan, one’s left to wonder: How will that shift further change the region’s real estate market?

Read 2326 times Last modified on Saturday, 09 November 2013 12:19

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