Posted: 1:00 a.m. Thursday, May 22, 2014

Population growing in Butler County’s suburbs

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By Eric Schwartzberg

Staff Writer

The population of Butler and Warren counties — and most of the communities in each — keeps growing, according to data released today by the U.S. Census Bureau.

Both counties saw population gains between 2010 and 2013, with Butler County growing by just under 1 percent and Warren County by 3 percent. Between 2000 and 2010 Butler grew by 10.6 percent and Warren grew by 34.3 percent.

The amount of housing units increased from 148,273 in 2010 to 148,555 in 2013 for Butler County and from 80,750 to 82,488 during that time in Warren County, according to census bureau statistics.

“We have seen actually the most striking recovery in the housing market since the great depression,” said Rachel Lewitt, president of the Middletown Board of Realtors. “The year 2013 across the country showed this and specifically in southwest Ohio and in Butler County.”

The Middletown area saw average residential sales price increase in 2013 by 3.5 percent and the number of sales increased by 5.8 percent, said Lewitt, whose coverage area includes Middletown, Lewitt said.

“This is reflective of the population growth in our area,” she said. “The house that you can buy in this area provides more amenities and features … than homes in the larger communities surrounding us.”

People buying in the Middletown area and other parts of Butler County find that homes can be had for a better price than other metropolitan areas, including Cincinnati and Dayton, Lewitt said.

“People can choose to live and work here or they can choose to live here and work outside of the region and still have affordable homes,” she said.

It helps that both Middletown and Hamilton are working on their downtowns to “create that urban feel,” she said.

“The younger population and the population growth in that sector will still have opportunities to have fine urban living,” Lewitt said.

Jessica Long, 32, who originally is from Eaton, moved from Flint, Mich., to Middletown in 2000 to work at Miami University Middletown, but waited until August 2013 to purchase her first home.

“Interest rates were low enough and I had the funds available that I knew I could actually look into getting a home,” Long said.

Long said part of her home’s appeal extends beyond her 5-minute commute and that it was the right size at the right price.

“I like the city,” she said. “It’s kind of fun to see things as they change here with different businesses coming in and stuff like that.”

Eileen Vogel, president-elect of the Hamilton-Fairfield-Oxford Board of Realtors, said population growth in Butler County comes in an improving market but “financing is not as easy to obtain as we would like.”

Many people, instead of going that route, are opting to pay cash for a home, especially lower-end ones that can be “flipped” and re-sold, Vogel said.

“I’ve been in the business for 23 years and I’ve never seen so many cash closings,” she said.

There’s no doubt in Vogel’s mind what contributed to population growth in Butler County.

“The real reason would always be jobs,” she said. “There’s really not another draw and I’ve lived in Butler County the majority of my life. There’s not a real reason to (move) to Butler County unless it’s employment.”

Vogel said she is skeptical of the census estimates for 2013 and believes there are greater gains than what has been reported.

“I don’t think they have all the numbers,” she said. “In Hamilton, we have a population of people who are probably not citizens, so those aren’t accounted for and yet they are in the job market in some other fashion. I’m sure we’re not the only city like that.”

Vogel said while Hamilton’s West Side is seeing a great deal of sales, the communities with the strongest sales are the ones the census shows to have made the biggest population gains between 2010 and 2013 — West Chester Twp. and Fairfield.

Local factors likely outweigh broader national economic factors when it comes to population shifts, according to James Brock, professor of economics at Miami University.

Minute dips in population in Hamilton and Middletown are part of those cities’ “trials and tribulations,” he said.

“What seems to be going on is that Hamilton and Middletown have become a little bit of a hollow center and the growth is kind of in the suburbs around them,” Brock said. “The rate may have slowed a little bit by the recession (and) the recovery might accelerate it a little bit, but the fact that it grows in the eastern part of the county … and that it declines in Hamilton and Middletown continues the long-term trend.”

Large communities in Butler County that saw gains include Monroe, Trenton, Fairfield, Fairfield Twp., Liberty Twp., Oxford, Oxford Twp. and West Chester Twp, which he described as enjoying a “continuing boom.”

“That’s very powerful and that represents a lot of things going on,” Brock said. “That of course, attracts people in from surrounding areas. I don’t know if they would come from Alaska or Texas, but I think jobs and so forth would attract people in.”


Population Growth in Butler and Warren counties

AREA/2000*/2010*/2013**/percentage of growth 2010 to 2013

Butler County/ 332,807/ 368130/ 371,272/0.85%

Fairfield/ 42,120/ 42,503/ 42,635/0.31%

Fairfield Twp./ 15,571/ 21,526/ 21,832/1.42%

Hamilton/ 60,601/ 62,272/ 62,258/-0.02%

Liberty Twp./ 22,819/ 37,259/ 37,816/1.5%

Middletown/ 51,619/ 48,694/ 48,630/-0.13%

Monroe/ 7,941/ 12,442/ 12,933/3.95%

Oxford/ 21,964/ 21,376/ 21,470/0.44%

Oxford Twp./ 24,133/ 23,661/ 23,782/0.51%

Trenton/ 8,822/ 11,869/ 12,191/2.71%

West Chester Twp./ 54,895/ 60,958/ 61,787/1.36%

Warren County/ 158,383/ 212,693/ 219,169/3.04%

Mason/ 22,019/ 30,712/ 31,282/1.86%

Deerfield Twp./ 25,515/ 36,059/ 37,651/4.41%

Springboro/ 12,625/ 17,409/ 17,860/2.60%

Source: U.S. Census Bureau

*- estimates base

**- population estimate

Housing Unit Estimate 2010-2013

AREA/2010/2011/2012/2013

BUTLER COUNTY/148,273/148,399/148,826/148,555

WARREN COUNTY/80,750/81,339/82,048/82,488

Source: U.S. Census Bureau

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