Harbor Country, Michigan

Photo: Bill Paige

Harbor Country, Michigan

Q: Is it too late to start shopping for a summer house?

A: Absolutely not—especially if you’re looking at the white-hot string of towns in Michigan’s Harbor Country, such as Sawyer or New Buffalo. The market there is regaining steam: 25 beachfront properties sold in 2012 vs. only five a year on average from 2009 to 2011, according to Donna Iwamoto, a Coldwell Banker agent.

For the best selection, bid before summer’s end; but for the best deal, wait until early fall. Sellers tend to reduce prices after Labor Day, Iwamoto explains: “They’re more apt to negotiate because they don’t want to carry the maintenance expense of an empty house through the winter.” You can expect to pay roughly $300,000 for the typical three-bedroom Harbor Country vacation house, she says. As you get closer to the lake, the listing price exceeds $500,000.

Then get ready to rub elbows with Rahm Emanuel and David Axelrod: Both own getaways in the area.