Housing sales down across Valley for first time in more than a year
By Jamison Cocklin
For the first time in more than a year, housing sales in the Mahoning Valley dropped across all three counties in August, according to newly released data from the Youngstown- Columbiana Association of Realtors.
Though the local housing market has enjoyed sustained growth since 2011 and sales have been up in the past 12 months by 1.7 percent in Columbiana, 0.9 percent in Trumbull County and 10.6 percent in Mahoning County, Realtors have suspected an eventual slowdown coming off those growth levels as the winter’s approach combines with slowly rising interest rates and climbing home values among other factors in the local and national economies.
In Columbiana County, sales dropped from 90 in August 2012 to 78 last month for a 13.3 percent decrease. The median sale price there continued to rise, though, going from $80,000 one year ago to $98,500 in August.
Sales dropped to 212 from 219 in Mahoning County, which saw the smallest decline as the median sale price in the county jumped 9 percent from $77,000 to $84,000.
In Trumbull County, sales slid to 160 in August from 175 a year earlier, while the median sale price went from $75,750 to $ $86,500 — up by 14 percent.
Despite the decreases, closed sales last month were still in line with some of the monthly averages in which year-over-year sales increased during the past year.
Home inventories declined across all three counties last month, and dwindling foreclosures could mean buyers have less to choose from, while interest rates have climbed slightly over broader unrest in the financial markets as rumors have mounted about the Federal Reserve’s intention to wind down an easy- money program that has it purchasing $85 billion in bonds and mortgage-backed securities each month.
On Wednesday, though, investors were surprised to hear the central bank announce it would continue the stimulus program after recent reports of sluggish economic growth, leading to a rally in the stock market.
Local Realtors were predicting a momentary slowdown earlier this summer, and a sharp decline is not expected to persist. Home sales also typically fall off as summer ends and children head back to school during the colder months, which are not ideal either for moving or for setting aside the time to purchase and search for a home, Realtors say.
Although Ohio home sales have not yet been released for August, in July the state recorded its 25th-consecutive month of sales gains, with closings up 25.8 percent.