Hot home market in Dayton area leaves sellers in charge

A hot housing market is leaving an historically low inventory of available homes in its wake, raising prices, triggering bidding wars among would-be buyers — and creating a sellers’ market.

“It certainly changes the market, in terms of whether it’s a buyers’ market or a sellers’ market. And it’s definitely a sellers’ market right now,” said Karen O’Grady, a longtime Dayton Realtor and president of the Dayton Area Board of Realtors.

The same scenario can be found statewide and across the nation. The Columbus multiple listing service of homes listed for sale is carrying a mere 1.6 months — six weeks — of inventory, meaning, based on the number of homes on the market right now, it takes an expected 1.6 months to sell all of them, according to Anjanette Frye, Dayton-based treasurer for the Ohio Association of Realtors.

That’s down from six months, which is more normal, Frye said. The Dayton area has just 3.2 months of inventory, about half the normal level.

“We haven’t seen this in our market in Dayton for quite some time,” Frye said.

In the first five hours for a good quality home listing, “They’re gone,” said Ralph Mantica, a member of the Dayton Area Board of Realtors executive board. “They’re gone, and buyers are actually in multiple-offer situations, which is driving the (selling) price to listing price and beyond.”

Cincinnati is carrying 2.2 months of inventory, while the Cleveland area holds 2.6 months of inventory, a 38 percent decrease in the amount of time it usually takes to sell homes, Frye said.

New home listings submitted in February fell more than six percent to 1,488 entries, according to Bob Jones, spokesman for the Dayton Realtors board.

Said Frye, “It’s a good problem to have, but it definitely can be a double-edged sword.”

The phenomenon is seen nationally, too.

“Tight housing inventory has been an important feature of the housing market at least since 2016,” Freddie Mac Chief Economist Sean Becketti said recently. “For-sale housing inventory, especially of starter homes, is currently at its lowest level in over ten years.”

Sellers are enjoying full-price offers, when prospective buyers immediately agree to meet an asking price.

The number of homes sold through March in the Dayton area is up 6.9 percent compared to last year, with the average selling price up nine percent, data shows.

O’Grady called the situation a “round robin scenario:” The market is well past the recession. Sellers want to sell homes. But they hesitate to put their homes on the market because when they look at what’s out there, they can’t find that next home to buy, she said.

In an interview this week, she said she had a trio of listing appointments in the past few days. At each, she said she was told by potential sellers that they didn’t want to put their homes on the market. “We don’t have anywhere to go.”

“We are at a record market in units sold,” O’Grady said. “It’s anybody’s guess how that works out.”

Her advice to buyers: If you find a home you love, make an offer now.

Mantica said there’s little anyone can do but wait it out. More homes tend to be placed on the market in the spring, which will help, Realtors said.

“We’d like to change it, but obviously we can’t do that on our own,” Mantica said.

Homes are hot until about the $350,000 price range, he said. “Then it slows down a bit. But the lower market is more active.”

“It’s probably the smallest inventory I’ve seen Oakwood,” said Georgiana Nye, a Realtor who focuses on that city. “But it wasn’t that much last year, either.”

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