February 22, 2017

An increase in pending home sales drops inventory further

Central Ohio saw 2,473 homes go into contract during the month of January, up 24.5 percent from the previous month, and 4.4 percent higher than a year ago. There were 2,170 central Ohio homes and condos added to the market in January. Although this was 47.8 percent more than the previous month, it was 2.2 percent lower than January 2016, leaving the inventory at 4,329 according to the Columbus REALTORS Multiple Listing Service.

“Just when we thought inventory couldn’t get any lower, it did,” said 2017 Columbus REALTORS® President Mic Gordon. “The increase in new listings wasn’t enough to offset the high number of homes that went into contract, bringing the number of homes left for sale to a new record low.”

There were 1,594 central Ohio homes and condos sold during the month of January, a 1.3 percent increase from January 2016, although down 29.2 percent from December.

The averages sale price of a home in January was $195,773, up 6.6 percent from one year ago. The median sales price was $160,800, a 5.1 percent increase over January 2016.

“Month after month, we’re seeing new records set for the central Ohio housing market,” Gordon said. “As long as inventory remains at record lows and demand remains strong, prices will continue to rise.”

During the month of January, central Ohio homes and condos spent an average of 50 days on the market, which is the lowest on record for the month. This is 10 days less than a year ago, but five days more than the previous month.

According to the latest Housing Market Confidence Index by the Ohio Association of REALTORS®, 98 percent of central Ohio REALTORS® would describe the current housing market as moderate to strong and 96 percent expect home prices to increase over the next year.

When asked what change they are seeing in the level of interest renters are expressing toward buying a home compared to last year, 65 percent said a substantial to slight increase in interest, 31 percent said no change and 4 percent said a substantial to slight decrease in interest.

February 4, 2017

Central Ohio housing market saw record highs and lows in 2016

Central Ohio ended 2016 with the highest number of home sales and the highest home prices on record. The year also saw the lowest month's supply and days on market, due to the lowest inventory levels on record for the Columbus REALTORS® Multiple Listing Service.

The 31,532 home sales recorded in 2016 rose 6.8 percent above 2015 and marked a 58.9 percent increase from our lowest point (2011) since the last housing boom in the mid 2000’s. Of those sales, 26, 832 were single family homes and 4,700 were condominiums. The average sales price of a central Ohio home in 2016 has now cleared the $200,000 mark at $202,224, up 5.8 percent from 2015 and up almost 30 percent from 2011. The median sales price of a home in 2016 was $170,000, which is 6.3 percent higher than the previous year.

Of the homes sold in 2016, 4,405 (14 percent) sold for $80,000 or below in an average of 61 days; 4,273 (14 percent) sold for $80,001 - $120,000, selling on average in 44 days; 5,902 (19 percent) sold between $120,001 and $160,000 and in about 32 days; 9,029 (29 percent) sold for $160,001 - $250,000 and sold in an average of 33 days; and 7,923 (25 percent) sold for over $250,000 and took about 54 days to sell.

“Soaring home prices are another reflection of how hot the central Ohio housing market is, which continues to be beneficial for anyone who might be looking to list their home for sale,” said Mic Gordon, 2017 President of Columbus REALTORS®. “With inventory at a record low, there couldn’t be a better time than the present to put your home on the market.”

Throughout 2016, the number of homes on the market stayed an average of 21.8 percent lower than in 2015. Central Ohio experienced the lowest inventory on record in the month of December 2016 with only 4,653 homes and condos available for sale. This is a 13.8 percent decline from November and 26.1 percent drop from the previous year.

The months supply of inventory at the end of 2016 hit a record low at 1.7 meaning that, if no more homes were added to the market, it would take less than two months to sell all of the homes and condos currently for sale in central Ohio. (A balanced market is usually around 6.5 months supply.) During 2016, central Ohio homes and condos spent an average of 43 days on the market – 12 days fewer than 2015 and another record low.

“With the highest sales and prices, yet the lowest inventory, 2016 was indeed a year of record highs and record lows for the Columbus region,” said Gordon. “Many houses are selling almost as quickly as they come on the market, which further affirms how attractive and desirable homes are in central Ohio.”

There were 1,468 central Ohio homes and condos added to the market in December, which is a 2.5 percent decrease in inventory from one year ago and 33.3 percent lower than the previous month (November). The average sales price of a home in December was $196,225, up 7.2 percent from last year. The median sales price was $163,000, a 5.2 percent increase over December 2015.There were 2,252 central Ohio homes and condos sold in December, which is a 1.1 percent increase over the previous month and remains unchanged from December 2015.

According to the latest Housing Market Confidence Index by the Ohio Association of REALTORS®, 94 percent of central Ohio REALTORS® would describe the current housing market as moderate to strong and 92 percent expect home prices to rise over the next year.

When asked how the residential real estate market will perform in 2017, 45 percent said it will improve at a fast to moderate rate, 43 percent said it will continue at its current rate, and 12 percent said it will slow at a fast to moderate rate.

November 29, 2016

How Secure is Your Home?

Home security is more than leaving a light on while you're away. It's investing in the peace of mind in knowing that you have adequate fire and carbon monoxide detection, an exit plan in case of fire, and protection from intruders. Fire and carbon monoxide safety can be insured by having the proper number of detectors and by properly maintaining them, but what is the best way to protect your home from a burglar?

According to the FBI, one home is broken into every 14.6 seconds. To understand what motivates a burglar and what they look for when choosing a home to rob,
a researcher at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte examined 422 convicted offenders from North Carolina, Kentucky, and Ohio. According to the study, a majority of burglars considered the presence of alarms, outdoor cameras, and other surveillance equipment when choosing a potential. Approximately 83% of the offenders said they would attempt to determine if an alarm was present before attempting a burglary, and 60% said they would seek an alternative target.

Among those who discovered an alarm while attempting a burglary, 50% said they would discontinue the attempt, while another 31% said they would sometimes leave. Only 13% said they would always continue the attempt even after an alarm had been discovered. Other findings included that the presence of video surveillance was an effective deterrent. Nationwide Insurance reported that homes without security systems are three times more likely to be broken into. Almost one in three burglars reported entering via open windows or doors or forcing windows or doors open.

To get another perspective from those who commit the crimes, the investigative team at KGWH in Houston, Texas sent a survey to 86 inmates who were serving time for burglary in the Oregon Department of Corrections. Regarding lights on in a home, “I would drive through upper class neighborhoods looking for many things, like porch light on with all window blinds closed,” wrote one inmate. When asked if they knock before entering? Yes. All of the inmates who responded said they would knock on the front door before breaking in.

With this information, what does a homeowner do to protect themselves and their personal property?

  • Invest in a home security system. The latest trends involve the use of smart phone technology, although industry experts expect to see a rise in hacking of these systems. Research which system and provider is best for you.
  • Wait to post your vacation pics on social media until you get back home. Make sure the privacy settings on your accounts are strict.
  • Lock your doors and windows.
  • Install motion-detection lights around your home.
  • Stop mail and newspaper delivery while your gone for extended periods. 
  • Get to know your neighbors and the cars they drive. 

Some of these tips seem obvious, but according to Nationwide Insurance a high percentage of homeowners admit to at least one of these risky behaviors during the past year. We don't want you to be one of them.

November 8, 2016

Mortgage Minute: Do I Want to Buy a Home?

This is the first of a series of articles from our guest blogger, Cynthia Carr of Stearns Lending.

I am a big believer that people should be informed and educated on mortgage loans. This is the single largest purchase of your life and you only get one chance to do it right the first time. Home ownership is one of life’s major events, and it provides some unique personal and financial rewards. It can provide lasting stability and security and a great place to relax at the end of the day.

Here are a few things to consider if you’re still undecided about taking that leap:
  • Home ownership may offer you important tax benefits.
  • You’ll have the potential to build equity. This is the portion of your home that you’ve paid for, plus any rise in its value.
  • You can decorate and remodel your home to suit your personal tastes.
  • It’s a potential investment, since your home’s value may appreciate over the years.
  • You won’t have to worry about your rent going up when your lease expires, or having to move if your rental property is no longer available or affordable.
Now that we have giving you the reasons why you should consider purchasing your new home, let’s discuss the first steps. It can be overwhelming! What do I do first? Do I get a Realtor? How do I get a Realtor? Can I qualify for a mortgage? If so, what does that mean in terms of purchase price of a property? How much money do I need? If you haven’t considered these questions, you should now. This blog series is going to guide you and prepare you for home ownership and all that comes with that from those questions to the final signature on the loan documents and getting the keys to your new home.

This month we will discuss this very important step: Do I want to purchase a home?

Let’s think about that for just a second. The knee-jerk reaction is “of course I do," but in reality you have no idea how or where to start. The very first thing you should do is to find a mortgage lender. You can ask friends, family, or colleagues for the name of the lender they worked with when they purchased a home. Please know that it is important to feel informed and confident with your lender. Getting more than one option and talking to more than one lender is absolutely the right thing to do. I know, I know, I am a lender and other lenders will not be happy that I tell you to do that. The truth is that when you have your credit pulled for a mortgage within a 14-day period, it is very unlikely that your credit score will be impacted any more than if it were only one lender checking it. Do not have more than three lenders pull it because rates are rates and all lenders are very close in that area and when you have more than three options it becomes less helpful and more confusing.

Avoid online lenders. They are not familiar with all markets and central Ohio has its own quirks when it comes to who pays for what and what credits the buyer receives from the seller. You need to feel confident in your decision. You will feel like you are going to a financial therapist when you start talking to a lender. We ask questions that have always been “taboo” to talk about: How much money you make, the debts on your credit report, and how much money you have in the bank. These are all serious questions and are a requirement for your lender to know. This confidential information is not shared with anyone unless you as the borrower provide us with the permission to do so.

Let’s wrap this month’s discussion up with a final thought. Before you start house hunting, find a lender who cares about you, one you trust, and who has the knowledge to help you with purchasing the place you call home.

Cynthia is the Branch Manager at the Stearns Lending, 1900 Polaris Parkway in Columbus and can be reached at CCarr@Stearns.com.

October 24, 2016

Four Changes to Make Before You Sell Your Home

There is a shortage of homes on the market in Columbus, so properties are selling at record speed. Unfortunately though, there are still some houses that are not getting showings or selling because of their interior condition. Here are four changes to be sure to make before you list your home for sale.

1. Paint
 Dark colors and unusual designs (stencils, murals) will not work when selling your house--light and bright is better. With a neutral wall color, the buyer can move their furnishings into the home without the need to paint over your color choices. The updated chandelier and dining furniture help with staging here, as buyers will be able to envision themselves having family dinners in this sunny room.

2. Bedding
There is nothing wrong with quilts or traditional bedding while you live in the home, but a modern style is needed to sell it to someone else. The bedroom should look like a retreat where one can unwind after a busy day, so you may want to look through home decorating websites and magazines for ideas on how to make your bedrooms feel cozy, warm, and inviting. In this room, layers of fabric on the bed and side table add a luxurious feel to the space, while still making the room appear spacious and bright.
3. Light Fixtures
Shiny brass fixtures often found in older homes are out. This one has been replaced with a more modern fixture in a bronze tone, but other metallics also would have worked. Remember that lighting is the jewelry in a room, so it should sparkle and shine. Make sure your light bulbs are the brightest, highest wattage allowed in each fixture and turn all of them on during a showing. Dimmer switches are always a nice addition.
4. Window Treatments
Less is more when selling your home. The heavy window treatments of the past are not what a young buyer wants. Better to have blinds that can be opened to allow the natural light in and to see the view outside. In these pictures, the neutral paint color helps tremendously also--it barely looks like the same room!

This article and its photos were provided by accredited staging professional Stella Pseekos of Styled to Sell in Dublin, OH. Stella is a graduate of The Ohio State University and a long-time Columbus resident. She is affiliated with the Greater Dublin Realty Association, the Hilliard Area Realty Association, the Northwest Area Realty Association, the Southern Delaware Realty Association and served as the 2015 Secretary of the International Association of Home Staging Professionals, Columbus Chapter.

September 22, 2016

Columbus-Area Home Sales Remain Strong Heading Into Fall

It was a busy summer for home sales! There were 3,116 central Ohio homes and condos sold during the month of August, a 4.8% increase over the previous year. This was the highest number of closed sales for the month of August ever recorded and the second highest month for 2016, according to the Columbus REALTORS® Multiple Listing Service.

“Central Ohio home buyers are still being very aggressive in their decisions to purchase homes" said 2016 Columbus REALTORS® President John Royer. “Since demand for homes continues to be so high, potential sellers are encouraged to get their home on the market – they don’t have anything to lose!"

The average sales price of a home in central Ohio during the month of August was $204,629, a 3.3% increase over August 2015.
During the month of August, central Ohio homes and condos spent an average of 34 days on the market, which is 29.2% (14 days) shorter than last year and just one day longer than July.

“Inventory and new listings are beginning to taper, but this is to be expected as we head into the fall selling season" Royer said. “However, it’s still a terrific time to list your home as buyers remain eager for inventory and home values remain high.”

According to the latest Housing Market Confidence Index by the Ohio Association of REALTORS®, 98% of central Ohio REALTORS® would describe the current housing market as moderate to strong. When asked what the single most important factor that they believed limited their buyers from purchasing a property so far this year, 92% said difficulty finding the right property because of low inventory.

“Homes are continuing to fly off the market, even as inventory begins to dwindle,” Royer said.”