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      House sales drop, but experts say there is a silver lining

      For those who don't shop for homes every day, a recent study of the real estate market may not mean much. But to realtors who gathered at the Holiday Inn in Marquette Tuesday, the numbers spoke.

      The 2011 Residential Market Analysis covers the City of Marquette, Marquette Township, Chocolay Township and parts of Sands Township. Closings in these areas fell ten percent in the last two years.

      "The market is slow generally this time of year," said Paula Lutey, a sales associate at Select Realty.

      The study also shows a few numbers to keep in mind: 270, the average number of houses sold annually over the last twenty years; 287, the number of houses sold in 2010; and 230, the number of listings in 2010. That number fell to 183 in 201, the lowest it has been in seven consecutive years, and 'For Sale' signs are harder and harder to find.

      But that's not always a bad thing, experts said. The house market is a product of supply and demand.

      "In bad times, we usually have lots of properties for sale usually because they're not selling and they accumulate on the market, and in good times, the number of listings goes down," said Bruce Closser, president of Closser Associates, Inc..

      The recent talks of a merger for Marquette General Hospital has some concerned.

      "If that led to additional job reductions, then obviously that would affect the market," Closser said.

      One dollar sign was a surprise. A median house sells for $145,000, not too far from the cost in cities like Chicago, and that's not a bad price tag to have, according to experts.

      "That's because we're a desirable place to live with the Great Lakes and Northern Michigan University and the hospital--all those are attractive features for people that want to move to the area," Lutey said.