LAKEWOOD, Ohio — Even with spring underway and more houses expected to hit the market, real estate experts say housing inventory remains at unprecedented low levels.
New data from the National Association of Realtors revealed pending home sales in February fell 10.6 percent compared to the same time a year ago.
As experts point out though, that number can be deceiving.
“Today, these are historic low inventory rates,” Seth Task, president of Ohio Realtors, told News 5. “I look in Cuyahoga County on an almost daily basis. Yesterday, there were 1,332 active listings in the entire county of single-family and condominium properties. That’s incredibly low. Even last year and two years ago when we thought inventory was low, those levels were 3,000 and 4,000 daily properties.”
Data from Northeast Ohio shows similar trends.
Here in Ohio, data from Ohio Realtors shows the average home sales price in February was about 12% higher compared to a year ago, which amounts to a $22,570 difference.
“A lot of people were able to save a lot of money over the past year,” Task added. “We’re seeing a lot of cash transactions."
Task also pointed to a lack of housing construction due to the great recession, as well as more millennial first-time home buyers and record low mortgage rates as some of the driving factors behind the current housing market.
14 offers in one weekend
Four years ago, Zach and Ella Clifford bought their first home in Lakewood, after putting in an offer about $10,000 under the asking price.
“We knew when we bought this house it wouldn’t be our forever home,” Ella Clifford said.
Fast forward to today, and the couple is in the process of moving out, after putting their home on the market last month.
“Even though we were hoping we’d be here for a couple more years, this is the time to sell,” Ella Clifford explained.
It took just one weekend of showings for the couple’s realtor, Seth Task, to sell their home, which involved more than 70 showings.
“We ended up having 14 offers, it was crazy,” Ella Clifford said.
In the end, they accepted an offer of about $100,000 more than what they paid for the house back in 2017.
“Our realtor called us after the first night of showings,” Zach Clifford said. “He’s like ‘how much over asking do you think?’ And it kept going up and up. It was just wild to hear the numbers coming in.”
The Cliffords plan to put the money they made selling their Lakewood home toward projects at their home as their family continues to grow with their 3-month-old daughter.
“We’re just so thankful we decided to sell,” Ella Clifford said.
Help for those struggling to buy a home
In situations where multiple offers come in on a house, sellers typically pick the offer that increases their odds for a fast and easy close.
“A seller is going to take something with the least amount of risk, which is more cash or no appraisal contingency or no inspections,” Task said. “I honestly feel very bad for FHA (Federal Housing Administration loan) buyers and buyers that have 3-5 percent down. They’re losing in multiple offer situations of 20 or more offers.”
State Senator Theresa Gavarone, who represents Erie, Ottawa, Wood and parts of Lucas and Fulton counties, hopes to help level that playing field by proposing the First Time Homebuyers Savings Act.
The bill would allow first-time home buyers to open up a tax-deductible saving account for money to buy a home, with up to $5,000 for single tax filers and $10,000 for joint filers each year.
“I want people to achieve that American dream of owning a home,” Gavarone said. “With student debt and everything else going on, it’s hard to accumulate that lump sum for a down payment.”
Meanwhile, CHN Housing Capital, the lending arm of CHN Housing Partners, announced a new kind of mortgage, called The Believe Mortgage, which would address the lack of traditional home financing available to homebuyers of color, homebuyers with imperfect credit, and low-to-moderate income (LMI) homebuyers in Cuyahoga County.
“Homeownership is the largest generational wealth builder, and we believe homeownership should be within reach for every family,” said Kevin J. Nowak, chief executive officer of CHN Housing Capital, in a news release. “Here in Northeast Ohio, we have seen the reality that homeownership has not been within reach of every family, and we created CHN Housing Capital to solve that problem.”
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