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Sterling Heights

February 24, 2014

Proper property upkeep props up prosperity, says city

By Eric Czarnik
C & G Staff Writer

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Proper property upkeep props up prosperity, says city
A construction sign from Lombardo Homes stands in a lot near 19 Mile and Saal roads in Sterling Heights. Sterling Heights had the second-highest increase in home property values in 2013 within the tri-county area. These homes under construction are being built on Meridian Drive, near 19 Mile and Saal.

STERLING HEIGHTS — Home is where the heart is, and in Sterling Heights, it’s also where property values are increasing.

At a Feb. 18 Sterling Heights City Council meeting, City Manager Mark Vanderpool took time to praise the findings of a list of property value rankings that he said come from the Detroit News.

According to a chart of 2013 home values in the tri-county metro Detroit area, Sterling Heights scored second place with an increase of 16.8 percent. Only the city of Utica received a larger boost, 17.76 percent.

“This is a good rate of return, in most cases, on an individual’s largest asset: their home,” Vanderpool said. “Certainly, on paper, you want to see a large asset like that returning to some normalcy and gaining back some of the losses.”

The city outperformed the Oakland County average of an 8.38 percent increase, and it further exceeded Macomb County’s average increase of 4.78 percent.

Not too far behind was Sterling Heights’ neighbor to the south, Warren, with a 10.6 percent increase in home values. To contrast, Detroit had a drop, with negative 14.79 percent, and Highland Park scored lowest with negative 17.56 percent.

Vanderpool, referencing Michigan’s Headlee Amendment, pointed out that while property values generally increased by much, a property’s actual taxable value is either capped at the rate of inflation or capped at 5 percent, whichever is lesser. The rate of inflation would be 1.6 percent in this case, he said.

The city manager said the city’s active efforts to enforce its property maintenance code and check up on vacant and foreclosed properties are at least partially responsible for the increase.

Vanderpool said an estimated 8,500 properties were improved through the city’s SHINE program, which stands for Sterling Heights Initiative for Neighborhood Excellence.

The city’s biannual Pride and SHINE Day calls for residents and volunteers to spruce up properties for residents who are low income or otherwise unable to do so.

In a Jan. 28 strategic planning session, Vanderpool commented that Sterling Heights was on course to overtake Warren in becoming the third most populous city in Michigan. He said Sterling Heights is one of the few major cities in the state to gain population in the 2010 census.

At the same January meeting, City Development Manager Denice Gerstenberg said the city has taken more steps to proactively seek out property maintenance problems.

The city has received fewer complaints of violations — in the second half of 2013, officials only received 1,233 complaints, compared to 1,756 in the second half of 2012.

“That’s a 30 percent reduction in complaints received,” she said.

Learn more about Sterling Heights at www.sterling-heights.net or by calling (586) 446-2489.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Eric Czarnik at eczarnik@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1058.