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Regional home sales surged in 2012

Clark, Champaign sale prices also rise, leading to optimism for 2013.

The housing market closed 2012 with its best year in at least five years for the region, the Ohio Association of Realtors said Tuesday.

Real estate experts expect the positive momentum to carry into 2013.

Last year’s increase in home prices in the seven-county region should help local homeowners regain lost equity. The average price of homes sold last year was $106,728, up 4.2 percent from the average sales price in 2011, according to figures from the state realtors group.

The number of homes sold in the region rose 14.6 percent as well to 4,454 units last year from 2011, the association said.

Sales figures cover the area of Clark, Miami, Champaign, Logan, Shelby, Auglaize and Mercer counties.

Fewer lower-priced foreclosed homes and strong demand helped drive home prices higher last year, experts said. Historically low interest rates and lower unemployment helped push people into the market.

Unemployment in Clark County dropped to 6.4 percent in December, according to new labor information released Tuesday by the state.

Last year’s strong sales have helped drive the supply of homes down, which could lift prices more this year, said Mekael Teshome, an economist with PNC Financial Services Group. Interest rates remain low and the overall economy is expected to continue to slowly improve.

PNC economists forecast a 3.1 percent increase in home prices in Southwest Ohio this year.

“House prices will rise more quickly than the national average in 2013, given the better balance between supply and demand. However, in light of weak population growth over the long term, homebuilding and sales are unlikely to match pre-Great Recession levels in the foreseeable future,” according to PNC’s economic outlook for southwest Ohio. “Housing is very affordable in the region, but the area will struggle to capitalize on this advantage without greater economic vitality.”

For most people, their home is their biggest asset.

Higher average home sale prices generally mean the average homeowner can expect to see their equity increase.

Some homeowners might see higher appreciation, and some lower, depending on what’s happening in their local neighborhood. If sales prices of similar homes in a neighborhood are going up, that bodes well for surrounding property values.

Shaun Bond, director of University of Cincinnati’s Real Estate Center, said he thinks local housing markets will continue to build on last year’s growth.

“I think we’re looking at robust improvement in the housing market in terms of price appreciation and a pickup in activity,” Bond said.

Rising prices could bring more home buyers and sellers off the sidelines who’ve been waiting.

“This could have broader positive implications for the economy because I think there’s a sense of household spending being tied to home equity,” Bond said.

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