1 Butler County city among healthiest housing markets in Ohio

Oxford is one of three cities in the region that have been named Top 10 “healthiest” housing markets in Ohio, according to a recent study conducted by the finance website SmartAsset.

The Butler County city ranked No. 7 in Ohio and No. 94 nationally, based on the average number of years residents spend in their homes, housing prices, ease of sale and home ownership costs, according to SmartAsset.

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”We’re kind of bedroom community to Cincinnati,” said Kelly Umbstead, president of the Butler-Warren Association of Realtors and a broker for Coldwell Banker College Real Estate. “This is a great place to live. We have a really good school district here but what makes it the most enjoyable is everybody knows everybody, so we have a really nice uptown district, we have a very active chamber of commerce and the city is involved in making sure that everything stays clean.

It also helps, Umbstead said, that the city has great trails, a retirement community, free music festivals every Thursday night in the summer.

“We’re kind of this little bubble,” she said. “It’s kind of an area that you can walk and there are lots of things to do with the university being here. There are just a lot of things that make it very appealing, whether you’re a young family or you’re an empty nester.”

The average homeowner in Oxford lives in a residence for 9.5 years, and home costs equal about 16 percent of annual household income, on average, the study found.

Meanwhile, the median home value in Oxford is $176,300, and home values have gone up 6.4 percent over the past year and are expected to rise 3.0 percent over the coming year, according to Zillow, an online real estate listing service. At the same time, 8.4 percent of Oxford homeowners have negative equity in their homes, and 6.5 percent of Oxford homes are declining in value.

On average, a home in Oxford remains on the market for 89 days.

Northridge in Clark County ranked No. 1 in Ohio and No. 3 nationally, and Beavercreek in Greene County ranked No. 10 for housing markets in the state in which homeowners can “easily sell their homes with a low risk of losing money over the long run,” according to SmartAsset.

Oxford is definitely a healthy market, one that has a very low inventory.

“If a home comes on the market and it’s priced well, it goes very quickly and it goes pretty darn close to the list price, if not a little bit more,” Umbstead said.

The SmartAsset study underscores recently reported housing data that shows that both Butler County and Cincinnati-area housing continue to rebound from the housing crash that preceded the Great Recession.

Butler County-area home sales increased by double digits in November, helped by rising mortgage interest rates and spurred by the results of the presidential election, real estate agents said.

The number of sales reported totaled 368, up 11.2 percent over the same month in 2015. There were more sales in November than the past four years at the same time, according to the Cincinnati Area Board of Realtors.

The average price of homes in Butler County also skyrocketed about 19 percent to $175,905 by November 2016, compared to the same point in 2015. The Cincinnati region also saw gains, increasing 8.03 percent compared to the year before with an average home price of $190,784.

Home sales activity generated $356 million in the Cincinnati area in November, a significant increase of more than 31 percent compared to the same month in 2015.

But the housing market’s horizon isn’t completely cloudless. While sales and prices are up, foreclosures remain doggedly high in the region, according the latest report from ATTOM Data Solutions (formerly RealtyTrac) — the Irvine, Calif.-based real estate data provider.

While foreclosures fell to their lowest level in more than a decade in Ohio and across the nation, the Cincinnati and Dayton areas in 2016 still ranked as two of the highest in the nation for foreclosure activity.

The Cincinnati metropolitan area ranks 41st highest out of 216 U.S. metro areas in 2016 for foreclosure activity and Dayton ranks No. 31, according to ATTOM Data Solutions. Cleveland was No. 20, and Akron was 23, Toledo was 36 and Columbus was 61.

Butler County ranked 12th highest in Ohio in 2016 for foreclosure activity, down from eighth in 2015 with its number of foreclosures down 19 percent compared to 2015.

“Ohio foreclosure numbers are decreasing but the state is still ranked 9th highest in the country in terms of its foreclosure rate,” said Daren Blomquist, ATTOM’s senior vice president. “It has a foreclosure rank that is higher than the national average. That would definitely suggest that there’s a backlog of legacy foreclosures that are still being worked through.”

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