The summer of 2022 was a crazy time for Upper Peninsula real estate. Homes were selling like hotcakes. Home buyers were flocking here from all over the place. 

One day in the midst of all this, I got a call from a couple who had flown in from California to shop for Upper Peninsula properties. They had found their dream home in the U.P.—or so they thought—and wanted me to inspect it. 

It was a big, beautiful home off the beaten path. It had a gorgeous view of the water, a nice garage, and a great big machine shed that the seller was leaving chock full of toys included in the asking price. 

Toys like a huge monster pickup truck with a snow blower attachment in front. 

We were going through the outbuilding when the guy turns to me with a puzzled look. He gestures at the thing and says, “what’s that for?” 

“Dude,” I replied, looking him squarely in the eyes. “You have a driveway a quarter mile long. What else are you going to do with all the snow?” 

His eyes kind of glazed over. “What snow?” he said. 

They bought the home anyway. Next spring, the place was back on the market again. I wonder why. 

California Dreaming Won’t Cut It For Upper Peninsula Properties

Now that it’s April in the U.P., home buying season is in full swing. Birdsong is in the air. The trees are thinking about budding out. Upper Peninsula realtors are bustling to and from showings. What a wonderful season for anyone looking at Upper Peninsula properties!

Best of all: all that nasty white stuff? It’s history (already! Thank you, El Nino.) Thank goodness, we can finally shop for U.P. real estate without having to think about snow for at least a couple of months. 

But STOP RIGHT THERE! 

REALITY CHECK: this is the U.P. we’re talking about. 

You’re looking at Upper Peninsula properties? I’ve got news for you. 

I hate to snow on your parade, but snow is the FIRST thing that should be on your mind if you’re seriously looking to buy property in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. 

ANY time of year. Even if the mercury climbs to 100 degrees. 

Why U.P. Home Buyers Should Never, Ever Stop Thinking Snow 

Yep, we’re in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. That means snow. Lots of it. And in my experience as a home inspector, almost no-one thinks about snow when evaluating U.P. real estate – but they should! 

We have to consider snow when we’re looking at Upper Peninsula properties. So many people buy a house in the warm season without considering what will happen when the weather turns. 

They settle in and then one morning they wake up and there’s a chunk of ice through the roof of their car. 

Why? Because they didn’t stop to think about that one simple thing.

Or like the California buyers in the story above, they didn’t have the smallest clue what to expect.

10 Questions to Ask About Snow When Viewing Upper Peninsula Properties

But it’s not just California folks who get into trouble here. I hate to say it, but I’ve even seen native Yoopers fail to think about snow they way they should. 

So, to help you think proactively about snow and ice—even when it’s the last thing on your mind—here is a handy checklist of “snow issues” to consider next time you’re shopping for Upper Peninsula properties.

  1. Where will the snow go? Is there room on the property to pile snow? Or will you be at the mercy of a neighbor’s good will? 
  2. What kind of snow moving equipment will you need on this property? A shovel and push broom? A snow blower? A pickup with a blade? 
  3. Who will do the snow removal? Do you know how to use your equipment efficiently and without injury to yourself or the property? Or will you be hiring someone else to do it? 
  4. Do you have a contingency plan for snow removal? A couple of whopper snowfalls late in the season is all it takes to leave many Upper Peninsula homeowners buried with no place to put all the extra snow. Will the city come through and take it away? Or will you have to hire someone to do it? 
  5. Are there areas that can only be used seasonally because of snow accumulation? Can you do without access to these areas for months at a time? 
  6. Where will you park your car? Is there a garage, or will you have to deal with an ice-covered vehicle before you can drive to work? How much snow will you need to move to get it out? Are there seasonal parking regulations you will need to observe? Will there even be space for your vehicle once the snow starts to pile up? (Seriously, this is a big issue in places like downtown Ishpeming.) 
  7. Will you need to shovel the roof? Is it a flat roof that collects snow? Or a steep one that sheds the white stuff readily? How sturdy are your trusses? If shoveling the roof is in your future, do you have a plan for doing the job safely?  Do you know how to shovel without damaging your roof?
  8. What about falling ice? Where are the roofs sloping? Are the eaves hanging over entryways, walkways, or driveways where ice can fall on people or vehicles? 
  9. If the home has a metal roof, are there snow deflectors installed? If there are no snow guards, we need to make sure it’s not going to land on someone’s car—or worse, their head. 
  10. How’s the drainage? Will snowmelt be draining towards or away from the home? Are there low spots in the driveway where water can collect and freeze, creating a slip hazard? How can you avoid piles of snow next to the foundation? 

In the U.P., snow issues are inevitable. Snow falls on everyone here. Relentlessly. 

The question is: do you want it to be just a normal, expected inconvenience? Or do you want to invite unnecessary hassle, property damage, injury, and potentially even litigation? 

The 10 questions above are critical things to look at and address in your mind as a home buyer in the U.P. if you want to avoid the worst side of snow. 

That’s whenever you view Upper Peninsula properties.

Every. Single. Time. 

Are You Looking for Upper Peninsula Properties? Bring This List With You!  (Printable Handout You Can Download) 

If it’s winter, you may be able to see some of the dynamics at play. If it’s summer, you will have to use your imagination. I suggest printing out the above list and bringing it with you. 

To make it easy, we’ve created a downloadable list you can print off and bring with you. It’s free to use, no sign-up required. 

DOWNLOAD SNOW QUESTIONS HERE

Finally, if you can’t tell what’s going on with the snow on a property just by looking at it, I highly encourage you to ask. Most of the time the seller and/or your realtor will be ready, able, and willing to supply the answers you need to make an informed decision about the home. It’s worth the extra time to find out!  

We wish you all the best in your Upper Peninsula properties home search. And when it comes time to hire a home inspector, give us a call, or schedule an inspection with us online. If there are any additional snow issues on the property you’re interested in that you happen to miss, we’ll do our best to catch them for you!