Clark County’s housing market on the mend

Realtors president seeing multiple offers, active buyers in area.

Clark County’s housing market is improving for the second year in a row, a Springfield News-Sun analysis of key market indicators show.

A critical segment of the economy, Clark County’s housing market showed several positive signs for the January through June time period, according to figures provided by Western Regional Information Systems & Technology Inc., the region’s Multiple Listing Service for real estate agents.

Factors signaling a housing market on the mend after the financial crisis include the following:

• The number of homes sold during the first half of 2013 rose 6.9 percent from the same time period of 2012, and is up 24 percent from January to June 2011. In the first six months of 2013, 573 homes sold in Clark County, compared to 536 in 2012 and 462 in 2011.

The most homes sold in the January to June time period was 721 in 2006.

The lowest point was 459 homes sold in the same time period of 2009.

• Sold volume for January through June is the highest its been since 2007. Sold volume is the number of houses sold times the sales price. More homes selling, and more at higher prices, led to rising sold volume through the end of June to $53,723,874, according to WRIST figures.

In the month of June alone, Clark County’s sold volume of $12,759,812 was the highest on record, said David Brisker, chief executive officer of WRIST.

• Jerome Vinson, current president of the Springfield Board of Realtors, said he’s seeing multiple offer situations, something relatively unheard of during the worst of the economic downturn. Houses listed for sale in the county are averaging 107 days on market, the lowest its ever been.

In 2006, the cumulative days on market was 125, according to WRIST.

“It’s clearly pent-up demand. We went through five, six years where there just wasn’t a whole lot of movement and the movement there was, the buyers held all the cards,” Brisker said.

“I think now the sellers are going to start holding more cards,” he said.

The most encouraging sign to Vinson, a real estate agent for the Springfield firm Real Estate II, is “probably seeing that there are active buyers.”

“When there’s active buyers out there, that is encouraging, but also seeing that the houses are selling and they’re not sitting on the market for months and months on end,” Vinson said.

The tamest figure for the first part of 2013 was the average sold price. Clark County homebuyers purchased houses from January to June for an average price of $93,759, a relatively flat change from the year before. The average sold price was down $316 from the January to June 2012 average price of $94,075.

However, at the bottom of the housing crash, Clark County home prices during this time period in 2010 averaged $87,491. Prices were an average $104,226 in 2007 at the highest point.

From the high point in 2007 to the low in 2010, the average Clark County consumer gave up 16 percent on average of their property value, Brisker said.

Since 2010 until now, the average home has appreciated 7.1 percent. Local homeowners on average have recouped about 44 percent of the equity lost during the Great Recession.

“Many people in Clark County who were at one time underwater are now above water,” Brisker said.

“People who maybe were upside down, underwater as they called it, in 2010 and 2011, where they basically owed the bank more than some auditor or somebody would say it’s worth, now many of those people have moved into a position where they’re no longer underwater and they actually have equity back in their homes,” he said.

For most people, their house is the single biggest asset they own, and a source of wealth. Rising home values can put more money in people’s pockets to spend.

“People like to take the equity of their house from time to time to do home improvements. That’s purchases that are made and people get put to work, and that can really spur the economy,” Brisker said. “All that stuff just really ground to a halt when people didn’t have any equity in their home.”

With these improving conditions, couple Rex and Jamie Fent took a leap of faith and bought a new house before selling their old one.

The Fents owned their previous home on Woodside Avenue in Springfield about 11 years.

When Jamie got pregnant with their second child, they began looking for a new house with enough room for their growing family.

They bought a new house in July double the size of their old one on Green Knoll Drive in Springfield Twp. The house was foreclosed, and they bought it at a discounted price for $114,500. The Fents probably would not have been able to afford the two-bedroom, 2.5-bath house at full price, Rex Fent said.

Nor could they ask for a better location — two doors down from Rex’s mother-in-law and not far from a long-time family friend.

“We decided we better strike while the iron’s hot,” Rex Fent said.

“I think the selection of houses is still probably the biggest restraint” on the housing market, along with people’s credit ratings damaged by the recession, Rex said.

Housing also depends on the jobs market, which is slowly improving, Vinson said.

Clark County’s unemployment rate currently sits at 7.2 percent, according to Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services. That’s down from 7.7 percent unemployment a year ago and down from its highest level in recent years of 12 percent.

Clark County’s housing market as a whole is improving, but some parts of the county are struggling more than others, Vinson said. The county’s housing is healthier than urban Springfield, for example, Vinson said.

“Part of the issue with the city is the housing, just the nature of the price of the house. They’re in the $50,000 to $75,000 price range that’s a tougher sale right now,” Vinson said.

“The people that look for those prices of homes are probably still having a tougher time getting financed,” he said. “Most of them would be first time homebuyers … coming up with the downpayment is a challenge and the credit (qualifications).”

Single family homes and condominiums sold January to June in Champaign County numbered 172, compared to 147 sold for the same time period in 2012. At the lowest point for the same six months of the year, 120 houses sold in Champaign County in 2009. At the highest point, 236 sold in 2006.

Champaign County’s average sold price dropped so far in 2013 to $94,826 through June, compared to $106,913 for the same six month time period of 2012, according to WRIST. Champaign County prices remain below 2007 peak levels of $120,048.

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