GRAND RAPIDS, MI - The West Michigan housing market ended 2016 on a high note as the Grand Rapids Association of Realtors reported home prices rose an average of 8.1 percent.
The region's real estate market, ranked No. 4 in a recent survey of the nation's hottest housing markets by Trulia.com, saw 13,593 single family homes exchange hands last year, a 3.7 percent increase over 2015.
West Michigan is bringing back former residents who once moved away and attracting new residents who are drawn to the vibrant economy, said Adam Paarlberg, president of the Grand Rapids Association of Realtors.
"I think we're seeing continued popularity of suburban and rural communities, but we're also seeing renewed vitality in our urban neighborhoods as well as downtown," he said.
Meanwhile, local builders reported another strong year with 1,088 single family housing starts in Kent County and 933 housing starts in Ottawa County. While Kent County's housing starts equaled 2015 levels, Ottawa County's showed a 7.7 percent increase.
Most of the apartments - 1,288 units - were being built in the city Grand Rapids, followed by the city of Grandville, where Land & Co. is building a complex called Grand Castle Apartments.
Apartment construction showed the strongest growth as West Michigan builders took out building permits for projects that will results in a total of 1,969 rental units in Kent County.
In the market for existing homes, the average price on a pending sale has gone up 8.1 percent, from $177,000 to $191.833, according to GRAR's year-end statistics.
Meanwhile, the average home sold was on the market only 44 days in December, almost two weeks less than the figure for December, 2015.
In December, a study by Trulia.com concluded Grand Rapids area was the fourth hottest real estate market in the U.S. thanks to its growing economy and affordable housing inventory.
Grand Rapids was the only Midwestern metropolitan area in the Top 10 list published by Trulia.com, which studies national housing and real estate trends. Five of the top 10 cities were in Florida, with Jacksonville, Fla. ranked No. 1.
"These markets exhibit strength in five key metrics: strong job growth over the past year, low vacancy rates, high affordability, more inbound home searches than outbound, and, because of the surprise election outcome, a large share of Republicans," the survey said.
Rental rates also were on the rise in Grand Rapids, according to Trulia's report. The median rental rate was $1,200, up 20 percent from one year ago but down from its summer peak of $1,300.