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

Leelanau County | Elmwood Charter Township Proposed Short-Term Rental Ordinance

As of 4/21/2021 | The Elmwood Charter Township Board of Trustees passed a motion at a Special Meeting held Monday, March 1st that would allow short-term rentals (operating prior to March 20th, 2019) to become a legal non-conforming use and be eligible to apply for a Short-Term Rental License to operate. This motion will edit the current proposed Short-Term Rental (STR) Ordinance (Zoning Ordinance 2017-04-08) by allowing currently operating Short-Term Rentals in Residential District 1 (or R-1) to be eligible to continue operating with a Short-Term Rental license. A Public Hearing is scheduled for May 19th to consider the proposed Short-Term Rental Ordinance and a Police Power Ordinance to regulate Short Term Rental of Residential Property will be available HERE. In coordination with establishing short-term rentals as a legal non-conforming use at the Elmwood Charter Township Board of Trustees Special Meeting on Wednesday, April 21st a motion was passed (motion introduced at 39:00, passed at 56:39) directing the Elmwood Townwhip Planning Commission to initiate an amendment to remove all Short-Term Rentals as an allowable use from all districts as a first step in the process of making Short-term Rentals a legal non-conforming use. Review notes from the Wednesday, January 20th and January 27th Special Meetings HERE and the Official minutes for the January 20th and 27th Special Meetings HERE. Review notes from the Wednesday, April 21st Special Meeting HERE. Information about the May 19th public hearing is available on the Elmwood Township website.

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

As of 4/7/2021 | The Traverse City Commission had a discussion on a potential Traverse City Housing Initiative Request for Proposal process to develop city owned properties Lots X, T and O at their April 5th Regular City Commission Meeting. This was follow up to a discussion on March 22nd that was led by Rob Bacigalupi with Mission North, LLC who has been working on the development of this RFP process. A motion was made at the April 5th CIty Commission Regular Meeting to table consideration of this RFP process until a late meeting where it could be discussed in conjunction with a Traverse City DDA proposal for workforce housing development on city owned properties Lot G. Information on their March 22nd Regular Meeting, including the current RFP proposal can be found HERE and you can view the RFP conversation during the Traverse City Commission March 22nd Special Meeting HERE. and  the April 5th Regular Meeting HERE. The RFP discussion was held from (39:30 to 1:48:00)

Grand Traverse County | Traverse City Commission consideration of adopting a policy regarding vacation home rentals in the D-1 and D-2 Districts to align with the policy for C-1 and C-2 DIstricts

As of 4/5/2021 | The Traverse City Commission voted unanimously to amend the Vacation Home Rental Administrative Policy to “Grandfather” Vacation Home Rentals (defined by the Traverse City Code of Ordinances as “a commercial use of a dwelling where the dwelling is rented or sold for any term less than 30 consecutive days.”) as a given Legal Non-Conforming Status in the D-1 and D-2 Districts. View the Traverse City Commission April 5th Meeting Minutes HERE. View the Vacation Home Rental Administrative Policy that was approved HERE on pages 235-236).

Grand Traverse County | Traverse City Planning Commission Discussion of a Riparian Buffer Zone Ordinance and Two Principal Dwellings in the R-1a and R-1b Districts

As of 2/2/2021 | The Traverse City Planning Commission discussed a proposed Riparian Buffer Zone Ordinance it was decided that this ordinance for the time being would be taken back to the Planning Commission Ad Hoc Riparian Buffer Zone Committee which will be meeting on February 9th at 12 pm. There was also discussion on the topic of the allowance of two principal dwellings in R-1a and R-1b Districts with lot sizes of 5,000 square feet as well as potentially decreasing the minimum lot sizes to 4,000 square feet for a resident to be built. The Traverse City Staff will be organizing public sessions to engage the public on this issue in the near future. You can read additional notes from the meeting HERE.

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 | 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) | 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 through their police powers. Adopted as a Committee Substitute, these authorities includes noise and advertising, occupancy, nuisances, inspections, licensing, and many more.

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 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 the account. 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 landing on Governor Whitmer’s desk for her signature.

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

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 - Governors Desk for Signature

Abandoned Mobile Home Titling: HB 4304 by Rep. Hertel (D-St Clair Shores) | The 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 title to a mobile home located outside of a park.

Status - Moving to Final Votes in the House

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.

Audio and Video Recording of Private Residence for Security Purposes | Would amend Chapter 82, MCL 750.539c of the Michigan Penal Code to coincide with MCL 750.539a that deals with the installation of surveillance in a “private place.” Michigan Realtors® is working to implement this amendment to allow audio surveillance in conjunction with that same video surveillance code for your private residence. 

Status - Has moved to the House Floor

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

Michigan REALTORS® Legislative News

Court Maintains CDC Eviction Moratorium Pending Appeal | Ongoing litigation regarding the Center for Disease Control's (CDC's) nationwide eviction moratorium has resulted in a recent stay issued by the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, which means the CDC order remains in place nationwide pending further appeals. Click here for in-depth info on the latest.

Housing Priorities in Infrastructure Letter | On Thursday, May 20, NAR and a coalition of real estate industry groups sent a letter to the Senate Banking Committee for its hearing, “21st Century Communities: Expanding Opportunity Through Infrastructure Investments.” 

The letter laid out the coalition’s infrastructure priorities, which include investing in the nation’s housing stock and increasing affordable housing around the country, putting Americans back to work with jobs in construction and infrastructure projects that relate to or increase housing availability, incentivizing localities to reduce barriers and adopt policies to encourage private sector investment in housing, and reducing regulatory barriers and invest in programs that increase voluntary property owner participation in the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) Program. You can view it here.

Treasury Issues Homeowner Assistance Fund Guidance | The recently enacted American Rescue Plan Act included $9.9 billion in relief for homeowners to be administered through a new Homeowner Assistance Fund (HAF). These funds, which will soon be made available to eligible homeowners through their states, may be used for assistance with mortgage payments, homeowner’s insurance, utility payments, and other specified purposes under the law and guidance. Full release HERE and summary 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.

Rising Lumber Costs – NAR Coalition Letter | A  few of you have asked about the rising cost of lumber and what NAR is doing on the issue. We’re very aware of the problem and are continuing to express concerns with the administration and key members of Congress. NAR recently signed on to a letter with other coalition partners on this issue which can be viewed 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.

The president signed into law the “American Rescue Plan,” which is a stimulus package/covid relief bill of around $1.9 trillion. It includes:

  • Direct payments of $1,400 per person up to $75k
    • The credit for single filers is $1,400 and $2,800 for joint filers. An extra $1,400 will be paid for each dependent.
    • Phases out between $75,000 and $80,000 of adjusted gross income (AGI) and between $112,500 and $120,000 of AGI for heads of household and between $150,000 and $160,000 for joint filers. The credit is reduced to zero at AGIs of $80,000, $120,000, and $160,000 respectively.
  • Extend unemployment benefits (set to expire March/April)
  • Funding for low-income households for rent, utilities, etc. ($19.1 billion) 
  • Mortgage relief ($10 billion)
  • Funding to combat homelessness ($5 billion)
  • Money to state and local governments ($350 billion)
  • Money for small businesses 
  • EIDL funding ($15 billion)
  • New grant program for bars/restaurants ($25 billion)
  • Funding for PPP and nonprofits ($7 billion)

For a more detailed summary of the American Rescue Plan provisions that impact the real estate industry CLICK HERE

Biden Administrative Actions Question Future of Association Health Plan (AHPs) for Independent Contractors | On January 28, 2021, President Biden issued an Executive Order (EO) aimed at making high-quality health care accessible and affordable for every American. The EO added a special enrollment period for federally-facilitated marketplaces and directed federal agencies to take action. The EO also revoked a 2017 Trump Administration EO that directed the Department of Labor (DOL) to issue the Association Health Plan (AHPs) regulation that expanded access to these plans for the first time to independent contractors. While this revocation did not directly rescind the AHP regulation, the President’s EO also instructed the DOL to review all existing regulations and consider whether to “suspend, revise, or rescind” any of these regulations that may be inconsistent with the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which likely includes the AHP rule. NAR is closely following the DOL’s actions on this and how the AHP regulation may evolve, including maintained engagement with the broad industry AHP coalition NAR help to found. Updates on this can be found at nar.realtor/health-care-reform.

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