With a home buyer-to-seller ratio estimated at three to one, the local real estate market continues to ride high with support from low interest rates.
“Things have probably turned around immensely. We went from nothing moving to everything moving, and we don’t have enough listings. If it’s priced right, it will sell,” said Joe Newlove, veteran broker and real estate company owner.
Thanks to the federal government lowering interest rates to between 3.5 and 4 percent, which then brought down bank rates, a good listing can get a house sold within a month of being placed on the market, he said.
“I’ve been in business 36 years, and I’ve never seen interest rates like they are today,” Newlove said. “It’s probably as good as I’ve ever seen, as far as properties moving. You can buy a house cheaper than rent.”
And some of the hottest property is rural. A country home just outside of Wauseon that Newlove had on the market sold in one day.
“Country is hot again,” he said.
Welles-Bowen Realtors of Swanton has more buyers than sellers, especially for country properties. Realtor Janet Hines said the trend has remained steady since the first of the year and continues strong, with lots of multiple offers.
“It’s a good problem to have,” she said. “When you have a person that is pre-approved and ready to buy, they’re anxious to buy, and they hate waiting. If something comes up, you had better be there on the first day. No house on the market will last long, not if it’s priced right.”
Hines said if buyers are patient they’ll find what they want.
“I’ve done this for 18 years, and it’s been years since it’s been like this. It’s good after our short period of things not going so well,” Hines said.
At the lowest point of the real estate market, which began to bottom out in 2008 as the economy slid, “you just kept marketing everything that was listed,” she said. “(Sales have) been real good since the first of the year. It’s a big relief, let me tell you.”
Hines agrees that rural property is the current real estate sweetheart. “Everybody wants rural now. It’s the image of stepping back to a simpler life,” she said.
But as Newlove describes the current trend toward country living, “The cheap interest rates are both the devil and the angel.”
Depending on the area and soil, farm ground is leveling off or softening, and grain commodities have lowered. Good crop prices and excellent yields over the past three years caused farmland to jump in value from about $4,500 per acre to $8,000 per acre. But now it’s lowering in price.
In some cases, the current demand for farmland is the result of buyers looking to turn the sale into cash, “but the interest rates don’t make it worth it,” Newlove said.
Carl Horst, a spokesperson for the Ohio Association of Realtors, said in the past four months the state has experienced a solid real estate market. Percentages in all major markets are up from one year ago in April: Toledo, 9.2 percent; Cleveland, 10.6 percent; Columbus, 6.2 percent; and Cincinnati, 9.4 percent.
“It’s been a remarkably strong market place,” Horst said. “We’ve seen continual, steady growth from the fact that the interest rate and market lending is still very favorable. We remain hopeful as long as the economy continues to improve and we see job growth.”
The single challenge is the lack of inventory for buyers, he said. “The number of homes marketed for sale is extremely tight. It’s a great time if you’re a seller. If you adequately price your house you’re going to have people interested.”
Continued low interest rates and a good economy could keep the housing market flush for a couple more years, Newlove said. And being able post listings on the Internet has thoroughly modernized the market.
“Taking people through 10 houses is no more. The computer has changed everything,” he said.
Hines expects the trend to continue but wouldn’t speculate for how long.
“You would just love to look into that crystal ball, but you just can’t,” she said.
David J. Coehrs can be reached at 419-335-2010.