A Real Look at Ypsilanti Real Estate
It’s no secret that Ann Arbor real estate prices are through the roof, providing middle class families with little choice but to look elsewhere to buy or to rent within their budget. Many are looking to Ypsilanti, across the eastern border of Ann Arbor. But what will they find when they get there? This series examines Ypsilanti real estate in both the City and the Township. We will profile a variety of neighborhoods, looking at homes for sale and for rent, and provide details on pricing, amenities, housing stock, schools, crime and neighborhood vibe.
Meet the Johnsons
The following are excerpts from a conversation with Heidi Johnson, resident of Normal Park since 2005.
We have a family and dog friendly neighborhood with lots of kids playing outside and riding bikes around the block. We feel safe and have a good neighborhood connection- we have each other’s backs! With a strong neighborhood association and active Facebook page, we do lots of different annual events like block parties, a huge yard sale, an ice cream social, and Night of Lights in December where we place bags with candles on our sidewalks and some neighbors open their homes for hot chocolate. Rutherford Pool is a big part of the summer experience for the kids in the neighborhood. We are less than a mile from downtown, easy walking distance to Michigan Avenue and Depot Town, with lots of wonderful shops and restaurants. Our neighborhood is on the 4, 5 and 6 AATA bus lines.
When our kids first started school, the Ypsilanti schools were going through an organizational shift and we decided it was best to send them to Ann Arbor through the School of Choice program. When the Washtenaw International High School and Middle Academy and the Ypsilanti International Elementary School opened in 2011, we decided to switch. Both are excellent.
At first we looked (for housing) in Ann Arbor but couldn’t find anything. It ended up being a great experience to get out of Ann Arbor and see a different area. Ypsi is more diverse and working class than Ann Arbor, which makes it more down to earth and easier to resonate with people. We love it.
The city of Ypsilanti and adjacent Ypsilanti and Superior Townships have a combined population of 96,000. Affordable home prices support a diverse socioeconomic community that bolsters its official tagline, “Ypsi Real”. Both the City and the Townships offer prospective homebuyers or renters an enticing opportunity. The median home price is $130,000 and the year over year appreciation rate is 10.5%, making Ypsi real estate a solid investment. Lower rents have allowed a diverse retail market to flourish, and there are many restaurants offering ethnic and farm-to-table fare at reasonable prices.
Eastern Michigan University, a cornerstone of the Ypsi economy, and a thriving artists’ community, have given rise to galleries, co-operatives, the Riverside Arts Center, Ypsi Pride, and the DIYpsi crafts fair— a draw for art lovers to purchase fine art and unique crafts. Popular annual attractions include the Beer Festival, Elvisfest, the Ypsi Heritage Festival, and the Thunder Over Michigan airshow, staged by the Yankee Air Museum at the historic Willow Run Airport.
With 12 parks in the City and 30 in the Township, residents have easy access to greenspace. Ford Lake, the Huron River, and the B2B Trail offer additional opportunities to play outdoors. The city boasts some beautiful old housing stock and has the second largest historic district in the state that includes colonials, Victorians, and Italianites, while newly built neighborhoods in Ypsilanti and Superior Townships offer quality modern homes at prices significantly lower than Ann Arbor.
Ypsi’s reputation of being more dangerous than Ann Arbor is partly deserved: crime is 35% higher here than the national average, whereas the crime rate in Ann Arbor is 29% lower than the national average. But crime in Ypsilanti is dropping by 10% a year and is largely concentrated in less affluent neighborhoods and commercial corridors after hours.
Generally speaking, residents of the City of Ypsilanti attend Ypsilanti Community Schools, and residents of the Township attend Lincoln Consolidated Schools. Part of the Willow Run neighborhood attends Van Buren Public Schools. Average test scores in Ypsilanti public schools are 27% lower than the national average, while high school graduation rates are 7% higher. Alternatively, residents may send their children to Ann Arbor Public Schools that are not at full enrollment through the School of Choice program. There are also several excellent public charter as well as private schools in the area.
Ypsilanti’s Normal Park neighborhood…normal, but also very special to its residents
The Normal Park neighborhood is tucked into the heart of downtown Ypsilanti’s west side, and covers the area bounded by Washtenaw Avenue to the north, Congress Street on the south, Mansfield Street on the west, and Summit Street on the east. The streets are canopied by mature oaks, black walnuts and maples, children play on the sidewalks, and residents are seen tending their yards. The first homes were built in the late 1800’s to house professors at Michigan State Normal School, a teaching college that was the neighborhood’s namesake. The college later expanded and became what is now Eastern Michigan University. Another wave of homes was built in the 1920s, and the last large wave of development took place in the mid 20th century. The homes are in a range of styles, from Colonials, Victorians, and Italianites, to ranches, craftsman-style bungalows and Sears kit-homes.
The Normal Park Neighborhood Association was established in 1989 and is the oldest neighborhood association in Ypsilanti. The Association organizes events and protects property values through clean-up campaigns which keep a shine on homes and streets. Dawn Keech, Association President, says her family was worried for her safety when she told them she was moving to Ypsilanti. “They had this idea that Ypsi is scary and dangerous. And sure, there is some crime. But it’s a town full of great people who are genuinely looking out for each other’s best interests. Our closest friends live across the street. We are part of a community instead of isolated within the walls of our houses.”
Taxes in Normal Park are some of the highest in the state. The City of Ypsilanti has a small tax base, particularly because much of it is taken up by tax exempt churches and Eastern Michigan University. Normal Park’s relatively high home values bears the tax burden, with a $200,000 house owing between $500 and $600 a month in property taxes. A significant amount of money, but the property taxes on a comparable home in Ann Arbor would still be higher because the home would cost two to three times as much.
2 bed sales range $80-$216K
Average sale price
for 2 beds $118K
4 bed sales range $140K-$280K
Average sale price $230K
Average of 30 days on the market
There are a small number of apartment buildings in Normal Park located along Washtenaw Avenue on the northside and Summit St. on the eastside. Scattered throughout the neighborhood, there are a number of duplexes and single family homes available for rent, many of which can be found on Zillow.com and Trulia.com. Studios range from $750 to $900 and one to three-bedroom apartments and houses range from $900 to $1,400 per month.
Bang for the Buck
210 Elm St.
Three bedroom two bathroom Cape Cod home, vinyl siding, 1,452 sq. ft. Lot size 0.21 acres. Built in 1920. Large dining room, eat-in kitchen, wood-burning fireplace. Wood and carpeted floors. High efficiency furnace and new hot water heater located in the partially finished basement. Covered porch, fenced in yard.
List price: $199,900
Sale price: $194,500
Summer taxes $3,506
Winter taxes $94.
2009 Pearl St.
Three bedroom 1.5 bathroom brick Tudor home, 1,700 sq. ft. Lot size 0.16 acres. Built in 1932. Wood floors throughout, cherry cabinets, working fireplace. Large deck, fenced in yard, two car garage. Central air, newer furnace and full basement.
List price: $274,000
Sale price: $281,000
Summer taxes $4,102
Winter taxes $110