Despite a slight decrease in central Ohio home sales compared to this time last year, Realtors are still positive about the market’s future — especially in Delaware County.
The average sale price in Delaware is $261,952, according to Columbus Board of Realtors (CBR). That is an eight-percent increase from March of last year, and still the highest in the central Ohio area.
Toby Boyce Delaware realtor of Keller Williams Consultants, attributes that statistic to home buyers who aren’t as affected by the recession.
“They don’t need to count on the bank for a loan,” Boyce said.
He added that while the housing market is not expected to match the peak of 2005 anytime soon, the county’s established areas such as downtown Delaware, Powell and Dublin have “held their value really well.”
“People are working in Delaware. People want to live in Delaware,” said Boyce. “It’s not exactly rocket science.”
Furthermore, potential home buyers are generally becoming more confident than they were two or three years ago.
“Right before the 2008 election, my business just stopped,” said Boyce. “Nobody was buying. Nobody was renting. Everyone was just sitting.”
He said he’s now seeing people who are ready to move.
However, Boyce said he is not “doing cartwheels” just yet.
“How long is this going to last? Have we reached a turning point? I don’t know,” Boyce said.
Part of his hesitancy stems from the foreclosed houses that have been warping the market. Boyce said more “traditional” sales must be made for the housing market to build momentum.
“The first house that gets sold is not a big deal,” Boyce explained. “It’s the domino effect.”
Theoretically, in the past, someone who sold a home would buy a new home higher in the price bracket. Therefore, every home on the market represented a previous owner in the market for new property.
Yet with foreclosures, that domino effect doesn’t happen. There is no momentum built into bank-owned property, Boyce said.
A self-proclaimed optimist, CBR president Rick Benjamin said there are more homes sold than homes foreclosed. For every short sale, three regular sales are made, he said.
“I’ve been around for 38 years, so I’ve seen a lot of markets come and go,” said Benjamin. “This has been a difficult market, but we’re coming out of it right now.”
CBR reported that the year-to-date sales in central Ohio are down 7.9 percent from 2010, but 6.9 percent higher than homes sold in the first quarter of 2009.
In Delaware County, sales are down 13 percent from last year. Year-to-date sales, however, are down less than one percent.
Benjamin pointed out that, considering the 2010 tax credit that had accelerated sales, central Ohio was “experiencing reasonably good sales.”
“It’s a great time to buy,” Benjamin continued, citing favorable interest rates. “People are recognizing that sellers have been sharp with their pencil — they have become competitive.”
Boyce* warned prospective home buyers from thinking about houses as an asset.
“Look at it as a home. A home is a debt, not an investment,” Boyce said.
He explained that while one can speculate on the economy, a homeowner cannot truly know the value of his or her house until it is sold.
“If you bought a home in ’06 or ’07 and had to sell it today, you’re probably taking a loss because that was the height of the super-heated market,” added Benjamin.
Instead of investments, houses are now considered a place to raise a family, get tax breaks, or to simply play the stereo as loud as you want, Benjamin said.
“Today, it’s a place to be secure,” Benjamin said.