The GAD Top Three | January 29th, 2024

Protect Yourself and Buyers from Seller Impersonation Fraud; Traverse City Planning Commission Decides to Reconsider Vacation Home Rental Caps in Unrestricted Districts in 2024; Takeaways from the 2024 Northern Michigan Policy Conference

In this week’s GAD Top 3, Seller Impersonation Fraud is on the rise check out resources and information to protect yourself and your buyers. The Traverse City Planning Commission will consider pursuing additional percentage caps on vacation home rentals in commercial, development, hotel resort, and industrial districts. A recap of the Northern Michigan Policy Conference held on Friday, January 19th.

1. Protect Yourself and Buyers from Seller Impersonation Fraud

At Aspire North REALTORS®, we have recently been informed of an increase in attempted Seller Impersonation Scams in our area. Below is information originally run in the August 14th GAD Top 3 on how you can protect yourself and your buyers from Seller Impersonation Fraud.

At Aspire North we are hearing reports of a sharp increase in Seller Impersonation Scams and most recently we (Aspire North REALTORS®) were contacted by the Leelanau County Register of Deeds, Jennifer L. Grant, with a public announcement of property fraud attempts have been reported by some property owners to the Leelanau County Register of Deeds. Below are a few resources and articles to help you identify and navigate potential Seller Impersonation Scams:

  • For Leelanau County, you and/or your clients can sign up for Fraud Guard Alerts to register your name with the Leelanau County Register of Deeds so you will be contacted by email when a document is recorded with your name on it. Giving you an early warning of property fraud being committed in your name.
  • For Antrim, Benzie, Grand Traverse, and Kalkaska County you can receive the same free notification service through
  • Seller Impersonation Scams are a nationwide issue and the Colorado Association of REALTORS® wrote a succinct and helpful article on the ways REALTORS® can protect themselves and their clients

For more information, or if you would like to report what you believe to be a property fraud attempt, contact your local register of deeds and/or the Aspire North REALTORS® Office at 231-947-2050.

2. Traverse City Planning Commission Decides to Reconsider Vacation Home Rental Caps in Unrestricted Districts in 2024

At the January 17th Traverse City Planning Commission Meeting Traverse City Planning Director Shawn Winter requested that the Traverse City Planning Commission consider whether or not they have any interest in pursuing a percentage cap on the percent of dwellings in a building that can be used as vacation home rentals (defined by the City of Traverse City as “a commercial use of a dwelling where the dwelling is rented or sold for any term less than 30 consecutive days”  in unrestricted districts. The districts under consideration would be:

  • C-1: 25%
  • C-2: 25%
  • C-3: 100%
  • C-4: 100%
  • D-1: 100%
  • D-2: 25%
  • D-3: 25%
  • HR: 100%
  • I: 100%

The Planning Department prefaced that this topic was brought to the Planning Commission as a result of recognizing a difference between hotels, motels, etc. that have staff on-site 24 hours a day and condo buildings that may be built in the same district not having the same level of oversight. For context, Traverse City Planning Director, Shawn Winter, shared that there are currently 445 licensed vacation homes with another 15 pending in the districts under consideration. There was general support expressed by Traverse City Planning Commissioners to revisit these caps on vacation home rentals. As far as the next steps the Traverse City Planning Commissioners advocated for a joint meeting of the City Commission and Planning Commission on this topic to ensure that the City Commission is supportive of the Planning Commission’s efforts as they move forward with potential proposed caps. Also, the Planning Commission called for the creation of a committee to discuss and consider potential vacation home rental caps. On this committee, they would like to have real estate experts, such as Aspire North REALTORS®, and potentially short-term rental managers. The Traverse City Planning Department will take this input from the Traverse City Planning Commission and begin working on implementing these next steps. You can view the full discussion on this topic by the Traverse City Planning Commission at their meeting on Wednesday, January 17th here (the discussion starts at 1:32 and ends at 1:54). 

3. Takeaways from the 2024 Northern Michigan Policy Conference

On Friday, January 19th the Northern Michigan Chamber Alliance hosted the 6th Annual Northern Michigan Policy Conference. Below are my biggest takeaways from the event:

  • The Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA) was pushing legislators on Michigan Senate Bill 293. This bill would amend the State Housing Development Authority Act of 1966 giving MSHDA greater flexibility in how they allocate money towards housing developments. Specifically, it would allow them to support affordable housing not just for low-income individuals (defined as no more than 60% of the area median income) but also for middle-income households (defined as no more than 120% of the area median income). This would mark a big shift in funding through MSHDA and highlights a recognition that we are currently under a housing crisis that is affecting individuals with incomes as high as 120% of the area median income.
  • Our area’s State Legislators are all pushing housing as a priority issue: 
    • State Senator John Damoose was pushing the idea that we have a lot of homes that are underutilized in the winter months, whether they are second homes or short-term rentals, and that we should be looking into doing something about this. 
    • State Representative Betsy Coffia was pushing local governments to utilize the $5 million in funds available to local governments under the Housing Readiness Incentive Grant Program. This program makes up to $50,000 available to local governments to help support them in making zoning reforms that improve the ability for greater housing development. As we covered in the June 12th and July 10th GAD Top 3s this Housing Readiness Incentive Grant Program was strongly supported by Michigan REALTORS. 
    • State Representative John Roth was pushing the importance of developing the infrastructure needed for housing development, before building the housing we need. Specifically, he gave an example in his district where a housing development is being developed that is connected to the roadways by a seasonal road. 
  • The Northern Michigan Policy Conference hosted a U.S Senate Candidate Forum. You can watch Part 1 here and Part 2 here.
  • The Northern Michigan Policy Conference included presentations from: Governor Gretchen Whitmer, Speaker of the House Joe Tate, Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, MSHDA CEO and Executive Director Amy Hovey, the State Director of the Office of Rural Prosperity Sarah Lucas as well as State Senator John Damoose, and State Representatives Betsy Coffia, Jenn Hill, Michele Hoitenga, John Roth, and Curt VanderWall. In short, the Northern Michigan Chamber Alliance is a powerful voice for Northern Michigan in Lansing.

Connor Miller photo
Connor Miller
Government Affairs Director

As the Government Affairs Director, I work to advocate for the real estate industry through programming that promotes the election of pro-REALTOR® candidates; engage, inform, and activate membership and local government officials on key local and state real estate policies; provide staff support to the REALTOR® Political Action Committee that invests members' voluntary contributions to protect and promote the real estate industry; and support the Aspire North memberships’ involvement in community projects to further grow and strengthen our region.