Current Real Estate Issues

Aspire North’s Priority Issues for 2021:

Housing Availability & Affordability

Reasonable Regulation of Short-Term Rentals

Infrastructure Support & Development — Including High-speed Internet/Internet Connectivity

Updates on Current Issues

Grand Traverse County | Traverse City Planning Commission Proposed Zoning Ordinance to Increase Housing Density

As of 9/2/2021 | The Traverse City Planning Commission will be holding Public Hearings on Wednesday, September 8th at 7 pm to consider Zoning Ordinance Text Amendments to rezone R-9, R-15, and R-29 Multiple Family Dwelling Districts to a Newly Established R-3 Multiple Family Dwelling District and Zoning Ordinance Text Amendments to the R-2 Two Family Dwelling District to allow up to four dwelling units per lot. View the current proposed rezoning of R-9, R-15, and R-29 to R-3 amendment HERE and the Zoning Ordinance Text Amendments for the R-2 district HERE.

Antrim County

As of 8/5/2021 | At the August 5th Antrim County Board of Commissioners Meeting (see page 82 of the meeting minutes) considered the approval of hiring Aspen Wireless Technologies, Inc. for $27,500 to assist Antrim County with the development of a plan bring a broadband Backbone project to shovel ready status and direct the Finance Director to make the appropriate budget amendments.

As of 7/20/2021 | At the July 20th Antrim County Economic Development Corporation (EDC) meeting (see page 42 of the Antrim County EDC July 20th minutes) the Northern Lakes Economic Development Corporation presented a draft of a regional comprehensive economic development strategy (CEDS) which established the Antrim County EDC’s top 5 goals and objectives to include:

  • Goal 1: Deliver broadband services to more residences and businesses throughout the region.

  • Goal 3: Develop and support programming that promotes affordable housing efforts at the state, regional, and local levels. As well as, collaborate with local units of government to implement policies and programs that support affordable housing development.

Benzie County, Inland Township

As of 2/8/2021 | The Inland Township Board held a special meeting on Monday, February 8th in which Flood Ordinance 21-1 was approved to manage floodplain development in compliance with the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). You can read the full adopted ordinance on Page 10 through 14 of the Inland Township Special Board Meeting Minutes.

Grand Traverse County | Acme Township Planning Commission Shoreline Stabilization Structures in Draft Zoning Ordinance Review Discussions

As of 6/14/2021 | The Acme Township Planning Commission in their ongoing review and discussion of their Zoning Ordinance has proposed an amendment that shoreline stabilization structures be prohibited on private property unless the Zoning Board of Appeals determines “that a shoreline stabilization structure is necessary to protect existing structures from imminent threat of loss or damage.” The Acme Township Planning Commission is continuing discussion of their Zoning Ordinance at their regular monthly meetings held on the second Monday of the month at 7 pm at the Acme Township Hall (6042 Acme Road, Williamsburg, MI). For more information visit their website.

Grand Traverse County | Traverse City Planning Commission Discussion of Multiple Family Dwelling Districts Proposed Amendment

As of 7/20/2021 | At the Traverse City Planning Commission Special Meeting on July 20th a proposed amendment to replace the reference to R-9, R-15, and R-29 districts to just R-3 while adding the ability to develop duplexes, triplexes, and quadplexes in the R-3 district, as well as increasing the maximum building height from 40 feet to 45 feet and the maximum allowable impervious surface from a range of 35%-50% to 60% to encourage higher density housing development. There will be further discussion and introduction of this Multiple Family Dwelling Districts Amendment at subsequent Traverse City Planning Commission Meetings. View the current proposed amendment HERE

As of 8/17/2021 | The Traverse City Planning Commission has begun consideration of amendments to R-2 Two-dwelling district zoning to increase density allowances to provide more housing units in Traverse City. These proposed changes include:

  • Renaming the R-2 district to the “Mixed Density Residential District”

  • Athletic field and golf course have been deleted as allowed uses

  • Duplexes, triplexes, and quadplexes have been added as allowed uses

  • Allowable dwelling units per lot has been increased from 2 to 4.

  • Impervious surface limit has been increased from 45% to 50% to accommodate additional development

  • A setback of 10 feet from Kids Creek has been added

  • Ends the requirement of 1 parking space per dwelling

Grand Traverse County | Traverse City Commission Discussion of draft request for proposal for Lots X, T, and O

As of 5/17/2021 | The Traverse City Commission Meeting on May 17th they approved the issuance of a request for proposals for City Parking Lot O for potential housing development. It was stated and supported by numerous City Commissioners that they are hopeful to move forward with potential Requests for Proposal for Parking Lots X and T in the near future as well.

Grand Traverse County | Traverse City Planning Commission Consideration of a Riparian Buffer Zone Ordinance Amendment

As of 8/11/2021 | The Traverse City Planning Commission discussed proposed amendments to a Riparian Buffer Zone Ordinance  (see pages 4-8 of the August 11th Planning Commission Meeting) that would adjust private pathway construction to limit parcels that have greater than 150 feet of frontage along the shoreline to a maximum width of 30 feet instead of the greater of 10 feet or 20% of the total lot width. Also, the amendments would not allow removal of any healthy trees for pathway construction in the riparian buffer zone.

Leelanau County | Housing Ready Staff Proposal

As of 8-9-2021 | The Leelanau County Housing Action Committee at their August 9th meeting passed a motion “that Housing North create” a “position for a housing coordinator and solicit donations to pay for the position” and to “go forward with this concept and work with Housing North to consider options as to how the Housing Action Committee might go further.” (see pages 3-6 of the meeting minutes for discussion)

Leelanau County | Rural Broadband Survey

As of 4-20-2021 | The Leelanau County Board of Commissioners at their April 20th Regular Session passed a motion to fund a Rural Broadband Survey Proposal to create a detailed map of internet availability and unavailability in Leelanau County. More information on this project will be made available when known. View the April 20th Leelanau County Board of Commissioners Meeting HERE.

Leelanau County | Review of Bingham Township Planning Commission Zoning Ordinance Amendments

As of 3-23-2021 | The Bingham Township Planning Commission submitted to the Leelanau County Planning Commission for review two real estate related amendments:

  1. Mobile Homes will be recognized in Bingham Township as valid single-family dwellings, provided:
    • The home is used as a single-family dwelling.
    • Is attached to a permanent foundation
    • It has health department approval for well and septic systems.
  2. Amendments that will refer to the Bingham Township Short-Term Rental Ordinance passed by the Bingham Township Board on October 19th, 2020. You can view this Short-Term Rental Ordinance on the Regional STR Guide available to Aspire North members on the Members Only Portal

With the approval of the Leelanau County Planning Commission, they will move to Bingham Township Board for final approval. You can view the Bingham Township Zoning Ordinance amendments HERE on pages 17 to 21 as well as the Bingham Township Planning Commission Minutes on these amendments on pages 22 to 35. 

Leelanau County | Cleveland Township Text Amendment to Dwelling definition and Building Lot Width and Area

As of 1/26/2021 | At the January 26th Leelanau County Planning Commission Meeting they reviewed Cleveland Township’s proposed amendments to the Cleveland Township Zoning Ordinance which would expand the definition of a dwelling ordinance Section 3.19 to include the text “ The building or part thereof shall provide complete independent living facilities for one or more persons, including, permanent provisions for living, sleeping, eating, cooking, well/water, and sanitation.” and in Section 5.09 add “The yard area free of all buildings and structures shall constitute at least seventy-five (75) percent of the lot.”

Leelanau County | Elmwood Charter Township Discussion of a New Short-Term Rental Ordinance

As of 8-2-2021 | The Elmwood Charter Township Board of Trustees held a Special Meeting on August 2nd to discuss a potential new draft of a Township Ordinance. The items agreed upon for this new draft ordinance are the allowance of 4% of the total Elmwood Township housing stock (roughly 100 housing units) as the cap for the total number of short-term rentals (STRs) that can apply for a license in Elmwood Township and all districts will be eligible apply for a license to operate a STR. These items in addition to the license fee will be drafted by the Elmwood Township Zoning Administrator and introduced at a Township Board of Trustees meeting soon and if approved will be scheduled for a public hearing. Meeting information will be available on the Elmwood Township website.

Leelanau County | Leelanau Township Presentation on Broadband Internet Options

As of 5-28-2021 | On June 1st, Tim Malone from Cherry Capital Communications will present and address questions relating to broadband, including fiber optic and other projects ongoing and planned for Leelanau Township. Visit this link for meeting access to this virtual meeting.

Leelanau County | Septic Records Consideration

As of 2/16/2021 | At the February 16th Leelanau County Commission Regular Session an update was given by County Administrator Chet Janik. He stated that the Leelanau County Equalization Department and the Benzie-Leelanau District Health Department will be putting together an overlay map for the age of drinking water wells around Little Traverse Lake, which will likely be presented to the Leelanau County Commission in March. View the February 16th meeting HERE. This follows the creation of an overlay map of septic systems put together and presented by the Leelanau County Equalization Department for the February 9th Leelanau County Commissioners Executive Board Session (the septic system overlay map can be viewed here on page 36). View the February 9th meeting here.

As of 1/19/2021At the Leelanau County Commission Regular Session, a motion was passed to establish a date for a special session with Leelanau Clean Water and the Benzie-Leelanau District Health Department to develop a detailed plan for a pilot consisting of septic installations around Little Traverse Lake (in Cleveland Township) including objectives, scope, timeline, budget and a post-pilot Leelanau Board of Commissioners study session to consider next steps. This pilot study would potentially be conducted through Rob Herman (GIS Analyst) with the Leelanau County Equalization Department to provide to the Benzie-Leelanau District Health Department to determine the potential need for a County-wide Septic Ordinance. View the meeting here.

Wexford County | Fair Housing Resolution and Designation of Fair Housing Person to Contact

As of 1/6/2021 | The Wexford County Board of Commissioners issued a Fair Housing Resolution and Fair Housing Policy Statement to establish Wexford County’s commitment to fair housing and establish the Wexford County Administrator as the person to contact regarding housing discrimination in Wexford County. View the meeting agenda and minutes (Resolution can be viewed on Page 26 and 27 and the Policy Statement on Page 28).

Legislative Update

Transfer of Ownership: SB 16 (Sen. Zorn) – The bill would amend Article 7 (Enforcement) of the Housing Law of Michigan to specify that a transfer of ownership would not constitute a change of ownership if both of the following applied:

  • The transferring party and receiving party were the same or otherwise were both under common control.
  • The property was inspected in accordance with the Law during the two-year period immediately preceding the date of the transfer, or a longer period if previously determined by a local municipality inspection ordinance.
Legislative Priorities

Protection of Short-Term Rentals: HB 4722 by Rep. Lightner (R-Springport) and SB 446 by Aric Nesbitt (R-Lawton) | The bills amend the Michigan Zoning Enabling Act to clarify that a short-term rental of one’s property is residential in nature, and prevents local governments from a ban through local zoning. The bill language designates “short-term rental” as a single-family residence, a dwelling unit in a 1-to-4 family house, or any unit or group of units in a condominium complex as eligible for terms of 30 consecutive days or less. Local Governments maintain their ability to regulate discourteous behavior through their health and safety power. Adopted as a Committee Substitute, these authorities includes noise, advertising, occupancy, nuisances, inspections, and licensing.

Status - HB 4722 passed the House Commerce and Tourism Committee and has moved to the House Floor. SB 446 passed the Regulatory Reegulations Committee and has moved to the Senate Floor.

First-Time Home Buyers Savings Account: HB 4289 & 4290 by Rep. Damoose (R-Harbor Springs) & Rep. Manoogian (D-Birmingham), and SB 158 & 159 by Sen. Horn (R-Frankenmuth) & Sen. Runstead (R-White Lake) | Creates a tax-incentivized savings vehicle towards for a first-time home purchase in the State of Michigan. The account can be opened in the name of an individual or a beneficiary with an annual tax deduction and tax-free growth, as long as it is used for the purposes of a first-time home purchase in the State of Michigan. There is a $50,000 investment cap over the 20-year life of the account. The bills passed off the House and Senate Floor with overwhelming support. The bills move to their counterpart chamber as they receive their final votes before heading to the Governor's desk for her signature.

Status - Bills are moving to Final Votes in the Counter Chamber

Abandoned Mobile Home Titling: HB 4304 by Rep. Hertel (D-St Clair Shores) | This legislation outlines a new process by which a mobile home park owner may take possession of an abandoned mobile home within their community. More importantly, the bill includes language to reestablish the surety bond process for taking possession of a new or lost title to a mobile/manufactured home located outside of a park.

Status - In the Senate Committee on Regulatory Reform

Audio and Video Recording of Private Residence for Security Purposes: HB 4724 by Rep. Graham Filler (R-DeWitt) | HB 4724 cements a clear exception for security surveillance with both audio and video in a private residence. The bill would not protect the use of audio and video recording if used for “lewd and lascivious” purposes. Current law makes it a felony to audio record in a private residence without consent of at least one party to the conversation. 

Status - In the Senate Committee on Judiciary and Public Safety

Veteran and Active-Duty Licensure Reciprocity: HB 4376 & 4377 (Rep. Schroeder, R-Independence Township, & Rep. Anthony, D-Lansing) SB 157 & 158 (Sen. Bizon, R-Battle Creek, & Sen. Hollier, D-Wayne County) | These bills create a pathway to professional licensure reciprocity in Michigan for Active Duty, Veteran, Reserves, or Uniformed Services within the United States Military. The scope of reciprocity would extend to a surviving spouse or surviving child under 26 years of age.

Status - Bill signed into law by Governor Whitmer on June 9th, 2021

Housing Supply and Affordability | Unfortunately, there is no one “silver bullet” solution to this issue. Policies affecting the cost and availability of housing include – local permitting, zoning, taxes and fees, down payment assistance, and the range of housing options. Michigan Realtors® is working with stakeholder groups throughout the State of Michigan to assess market-based solutions that will in turn address the housing needs of Michigan’s workforce and job providers. 

Status - The Michigan Housing Coalition, which Michigan REALTORS and Aspire North REALTORS are members of, has introduced a number of bills. These Bill introductions and summaries can be viewed HERE.

Updates courtesy of Michigan Realtors® Northern Michigan Public Policy Director, Alex Houseman. For more information visit

Michigan REALTORS® Legislative News

HUD-FHFA Initiative on Housing Supply | On September 1, 2021, the Biden administration announced a joint effort by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) to increase housing supply at the entry level of the market. The effort will focus on entry-level and affordable unit production and “will create, preserve, and sell to homeowners and non-profits” as many as 100,000 units over the next three years. To view more on this initiative, click HERE.

New ERAP Distribution Guidelines Released | On August 25, the White House released additional guidance aimed at speeding up and improving distribution of Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP) funds to tenants and housing providers in need. These changes follow a letter with recommendations for improving the program sent by the housing provider coalition group that NAR participates in to the Administration and Congress. For further information on the guidelines, click HERE.

NAR Comments on HUD's Interim Final AFFH Rule | On July 12, 2021, NAR submitted a comment on the Housing and Urban Development (HUD)’s interim final rule, Restoring Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing Definitions and Certifications. The interim final rule, which takes effect on July 31, restores definitions from HUD’s 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) rule that HUD repealed with its 2020 AFFH rule. The interim final rule also restores technical assistance for communities engaged in fair housing planning that HUD had withdrawn. NAR wrote that the 2015 definitions, which this interim final rule restores, better reflect the goals of the Fair Housing Act as written by Congress and interpreted by the courts. You can view the comment letter HERE.

“Housing is Critical Infrastructure” Study from NAR and the Rosen Consulting Group | NAR released a report on policy considerations to help shape the future of housing as Congress debates an infrastructure package. This report, released by NAR and authored by the Rosen Consulting Group, highlights the vast underbuilding gap in the U.S. and the consequences of underinvesting in housing. Following decades of underbuilding and underinvestment, the U.S. faces an acute shortage of available housing, an ever-worsening affordability crisis, and an existing housing stock that is aging and increasingly in need of repair—all to the detriment of the health of the public and the economy. View the full release HERE and the study HERE.

Direct PPP Forgiveness Portal | This portal opened on August 4th, 2021 is available for PPP borrowers with loans of $150,000 or less. Currently, all borrowers must apply through the SBA lender who provided their PPP loan. Once the portal launches, lenders must opt-in to the program to allow their borrowers to access it. Borrowers that need assistance or have questions should call (877) 552-2692, Monday - Friday, 8 am to 8 pm. Access the SBA direct forgiveness portal HERE. Visit nar.realtor/coronavirusSBA for additional information on the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).

CFPB Toolkit & NAR Social Media Posts | This week the CFPB released a new toolkit/landing page for renters and housing providers who are in need of rental assistance. State and local REALTOR associations can play a particularly helpful role in pushing this out and spreading awareness on social media and elsewhere. NAR’s policy team has put together a Rental Assistance Resources page. You can also find our Facebook and Twitter posts in case you’d like to share them.

NAR Applauds Reintroduction of Bipartisan Broadband Legislation in the Senate | National Association of Realtors® President Charlie Oppler issued the following statement applauding Senators Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Angus King (I-Maine) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio) for their introduction of the Broadband Reform and Investment to Drive Growth in the Economy (BRIDGE) Act of 2021. View the full release including a summary of potential policy changes HERE.

Biden Administration FY 2022 Summary Budget | On April 9, 2022, the Biden Administration released its summary request for fiscal year (FY) 2022 discretionary funding. The full budget will not be available in time for the start of the Congress’s annual appropriations and budget process. However, given the importance of the appropriations process proceeding on schedule, this report includes the topline request. View it HERE.

DOL Withdraws Independent Contractor Rule | The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) announced its withdrawal of the Trump era independent contractor rule for determining how workers are classified under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). DOL published the final independent contractor rule in January 2021, but the rule never went into effect. The independent contractor rule would have adopted an economic realities test for classifying workers as employees or independent contractors, and would have provided greater clarity for how independent contractors are classified under the FLSA. It was expected that the Department of Labor would withdraw the independent contractor rule, but it is unclear how the Department will proceed with a new rule and potential regulations on this matter. NAR has remained engaged on this issue, and will continue to provide updates. For more information on NAR’s advocacy efforts on worker classification matters, please visit nar.realtor/independent-contractor-status

NAR Letter of Support for HR 2553, the "Real Estate Valuation Fairness and Improvement Act of 2021” | On April 19 NAR sent a letter to Chairwoman Waters and Ranking Member McHenry. The letter expresses NAR’s support for H.R. 2553, the “Real Estate Valuation Fairness and Improvement Act of 2021.” Discrimination in the real estate market, including the appraisal process, harms not only the participants in the transaction but the entire industry as a whole. NAR is committed to confronting any form of discrimination that creates barriers to homeownership for Americans. View it HERE.

Updates courtesy of National Association of Realtors® Political Representative, Patrick Wohl. For more information, visit 

NAR’s Federal Advocacy Agenda

Summary of NAR State & Local Issues Policies