Northern Wilds Magazine
Along the Shore

Cook County, Minnesota real estate market remains healthy

The Cook County, Minnesota real estate market is healthy, say real estate agents. Properties on the market are attracting plenty of interest from prospective buyers, many of whom are deciding to make a purchase. Agents are upbeat, although one made a wry observation.

“My family was in the car business,” said Bob Carter of Coldwell Banker North Shore. “Dad always said that if you talked to a salesman on the day when someone bought a car, he’d tell you business was great. If he hadn’t sold one, business would be lousy.”

Carter followed up by saying for local real estate, “Autumn is always strong. It’s been a good summer.”

The mainstay of the market are homes in and near Grand Marais. The county seat is the only “urban” area in the county with a full range of facilities and services, as well as the most employment opportunities. So, it makes sense the greatest demand for homes is there.

Mike Raymond of Red Pine Realty says there is steady demand for homes west of Grand Marais in the communities of Lutsen, Tofte and Schroeder. Interest in homes dwindles moving east from Grand Marais, where there is less development and few employment opportunities.

Cook County also has a substantial second home and cabin market. Properties on Lake Superior are consistently strong sellers. Sales of cabins on inland lakes have improved, but remain somewhat sluggish. So, too, are sales of remote, vacant land, as well as commercial properties.

One facet of the market that is somewhat new are buyers looking for homes and cabins where they can get some return on investment from vacation rentals. Carter says these buyers have had an impact on the market; enough that the county government is paying attention to vacation rentals.

While his company has experienced three good years of sales, with this one shaping up as the best, Raymond says the current market doesn’t resemble the “bubble” of the early 2000s, when prices soared to meet a surging demand. While prices have recovered since the Great Recession, the only facet where demand is leading to increases are single family homes.

Carter points out that as opposed to metro real estate markets, Cook County doesn’t have extreme highs and lows. The ups and downs inevitably occur, but they are not as drastic.

“The real estate market here is pretty healthy,” Carter said.

Then again, perhaps he had just made a sale on the day Northern Wilds talked to him.

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