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September homes sales rise in region; impact of interest rates, debates yet to be seen

Home sales grew again in September, with the Cincinnati, Dayton and Springfield area housing markets recording double-digit percentage increases compared to the year before.

Local realtors boards released Monday their monthly home sales reports, showing early estimates on the status of a key segment of the economy.

The number of existing single family homes sold last month rose 23 percent in the Cincinnati market, 21 percent in the Dayton market and 18 percent in the seven-county region including Clark County.

“Our sales are up about 30 percent this year,” said Lonnie Lewis, president and owner of North Star Realtors Inc., a Fairfield real estate firm with 20 agents.

However, headwinds hitting the housing market include this month’s debt ceiling debate and government shutdown, rising interest rates, and the health of the overall economy.

“Affordability has fallen to a five-year low as home price increases easily outpaced income growth,” Lawrence Yun, National Association of Realtors chief economist, said in a statement. “Expected rising mortgage interest rates will further lower affordability in upcoming months. Next month we may see some delays associated with the government shutdown.”

Home prices are increasing at a slower rate this year in the Dayton area, which includes Greene, Montgomery and Preble counties and parts of Warren County. Year-to-date through September, the average price of homes sold was $126,832 in the Dayton area, up 3 percent from the same time period of 2012, according to Dayton Area Board of Realtors. The average price for the same nine-month period of 2012 increased 6 percent from 2011.

In September, the average sold price year-over-year was flat in the Dayton area ($124,454, down less than 1 percent); and dropped in the region that includes Clark County ($104,125, down 9.6 percent).

The Cincinnati market’s average sold price rose 2.4 percent from September 2012 to $162,697 in September 2013, according to Cincinnati Area Board of Realtors. Year-to-date, Cincinnati’s average price of homes sold was $166,721, up 6.1 percent from 2012.

“My biggest concern is interest rates. It will definitely slow down the housing market because as rates go up, it raises people’s payments,” Lewis of North Star said. “The prices are better than they were last year, but they’re not close to what they were before the recession hit.”

Local home mortgage rates in June averaged 4.28 percent for a 30-year fixed rate loan, compared to 3.43 percent a year ago, according to the Cincinnati realtors group.

Butler County’s peak average sale price was $174,384 in June 2006; in the Dayton market it was $150,919 in June 2007.

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