Ohio home sales slump in March, prices keep climbing


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The number of March home sales in Ohio slumped from year-ago levels as prices continued to grow.

That’s according to new data released this week by the Ohio Association of Realtors, a professional trade organization that uses multiple listing service data to track sales of new and existing single-family homes and condominiums in 18 markets across the state.

Home sales were down 6.7% from last March, while the average sales price climbed 5.3% to $177,460, the association reported. Only five of 18 markets in the state posted gains in sales activity, while 12 saw increases in average sales price. The weak month contributed to the first quarter lagging behind the same period last year. For the first three months of the year, sales were down 2.1% and average sales price was up 4.5%.

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“Activity levels in March slowed somewhat as would-be buyers remained on the sidelines,” said Anjanette Frye, association president. “One big positive [is that] the market posted a continued, steady rise in the average sale price, an indication that housing is a solid, long-term investment.”

The story was similar in Northeast Ohio and nationally, with sales dropping in all four regions of the country. The National Association of Realtors, which reports seasonally adjusted numbers on existing-home sales across the U.S., reported a 4.9% dip in home sales from February to March and a 5.4% decline from March of last year. The decline did not come as a surprise to some experts.

“It is not surprising to see a retreat after a powerful surge in sales in the prior month,” said NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun, referring to February’s robust sales numbers. “Still, current sales activity is underperforming in relation to the strength in the jobs markets. The impact of lower mortgage rates has not yet been fully realized.”

Prices also increased nationally, with NAR reporting the median, or middle, sales price for all home types reached $259,400 last month, up 3.8% from a year prior. March marked the 85th consecutive month of year-over-year price growth.

The upshot for would-be homebuyers is that inventory, which has been tight, perked up slightly last month. The number of existing homes available for sale nationally grew to 1.68 million, up from 1.63 million in February and 1.64 million a year ago.

“Further increases in inventory are highly desirable to keep home prices in check,” said Yun. “The sustained steady gains in home sales can occur when home-price appreciation grows at roughly the same pace as wage growth.”

The Midwest experienced the largest sales slump in the country, posting a 7.9% drop from February and an 8.6% decline from March 2018, NAR reported. The median sales price in the region grew 4.6% from last year, to $200,500.

Columbus topped the list of hottest housing markets in the country last month, according to a Realtor.com index cited by NAR.

That index ranked Ohio’s capital city No. 1 out of 300 metros in the country, based on factors such as how often homes there are viewed, available inventory, and how long homes there are on the market.

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