Explosive housing growth, low vacancies continued in Warren County in past decade

Warren County in the last decade has seen some of the most explosive growth in new housing in the state, and it also has the lowest vacancy rate of Ohio’s 88 counties, according to a Dayton Daily News analysis of new Census data.

Warren County added about 12,525 new housing units in the last 10 years, and its rate of housing growth is more than triple of most other Ohio counties, including five of the six other local jurisdictions.

“The main reasons behind this growth in housing and population is due to an attractive environment for living and working,” said Matt Schnipke, director of the Warren County Office of Economic Development.

Four other counties in the Miami Valley region experienced much slower growth in housing units, while Montgomery and Clark counties saw their inventories decline.

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Ohio counties with the most growth in housing units  
Statewide rank (highest to lowest)County% increase in new housing units
1Delaware County23.3%
2Union County19.1%
3Warren County15.5%
4Franklin County10.2%
5Medina County8.7%
11Miami County5.7%
15Greene County4.5%
17Butler County3.7%
37Champaign County0.6%
53Clark County-0.7%
61Montgomery County-1.3%
Ohio counties housing unit vacancy rates  
CountyHousing unit vacancy rate 
Warren County*4.5% 
Butler County5.6% 
Miami County5.7% 
Greene County6.3% 
Champaign County7.3% 
Clark County 8.4% 
Montgomery County9.1% 
*Lowest in the state  
Source: US Census  

The number of housing units in Warren County grew 15.5% between 2010 and 2020, according to data from the Census, a once-in-a-decade count of people and households.

Only two counties had higher growth: Delaware County (+23%) and Union County (+19.1%).

The housing growth is close to but exceeds Warren County’s population growth during the time period (+14%), said Schnipke, with the office of economic development.

Warren County is growing because it has exceptional schools, quality of life and safe communities ― some of the things housing-seekers want most, he said.

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Schnipke said he thinks Warren County’s housing growth will continue as the Dayton and Cincinnati regions continue to expand and the new development strengthens their connections.

“As this happens, Warren County will continue to be the area of overlap,” he said.

Some people predict that one day the Dayton and Cincinnati regions will be combined into a single metropolitan statistical area, and if that happened, it would be one of the 20 largest MSAs in the nation.

In the last decade, Miami County’s housing supply increased 5.7% to 46,766 units, while Greene County’s grew 4.5% to 71,336 units.

Butler County saw 3.7% growth (+5,468 units), and Champaign County saw 0.6% growth (+107 units).

Montgomery County lost about 3,250 housing units in the last 10 years, a 1.3% reduction. Clark County’s housing supply slipped 0.7% (-432 units).

Some vacant and obsolete residential properties in Montgomery County and other counties were demolished as part of blight removal and neighborhood stabilization efforts, which were supported by millions of dollars in state and federal funding.

Some properties in Montgomery County also were damaged and left vacant after the Memorial Day tornadoes, and some officials believe that also contributed to its vacancy rate.

In addition to robust housing growth, Warren County also had a housing vacancy rate of 4.5% last year, which was the lowest among Ohio’s 88 counties, the Census data show.

By comparison, Butler County’s vacancy rate was 5.6%, the 9th lowest in the state; Miami County ranked 10th, (5.7%); and Greene County, 18th (6.3%).

Montgomery County’s rate was 9.1%; Clark County’s, 8.4%; and Champaign County’s, 7.3%.

Warren County has taken a balanced and intentional approach to growth that weighs zoning considerations such as lot size, said Warren County Commissioner David Young.

Warren County has long had strong demand for new housing, but in the mid-2000s it was at risk of becoming a bedroom community, which would have been disastrous for citizens’ tax burdens, said Young, who joined the commission in 2004.

Managed growth that encouraged new business development along with new housing has been a recipe for Warren County’s success, he said.

“We can’t just be a bedroom community, because that is a failing model,” he said.

Warren County is home to some major employers including Proctor & Gamble, Luxottica (Lenscrafters), Cintas Corporation, WellPoint and Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield and Advics Manufacturing Inc.

Warren County is also one of the more wealthy counties in Ohio.

This newspaper recently found that about 9.1% of tax returns filed in Warren County belonged to taxpayers earning more than $200,000 annually. Only Delaware and Geauga counties had larger shares of high-income taxpayers.

The county has a comprehensive plan for growth with zoning that prevents undesirable uses, like endless strip malls, but otherwise the government gets out of the way of the free market, which allows good things to happen, Young said.

“I think when you put together a combination of good schools, a safe environment, plentiful jobs and low taxes, the free market says people will want to move there,” Young said. “We essentially try to set up an environment where the free market can thrive, and I think that’s what these numbers are proving.”

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