Butler County market seeing a lift in home sales, new construction

The home market in Butler County for the first half of 2019 is slightly ahead of strong 2018, according to the most recent data available from the Cincinnati Area Board of Realtors and the Home Builders Association of Greater Cincinnati.

The amount of Butler County residential sales went from 2,411 through June in 2018 to 2,488 through this June, a 3.2 percent increase, with the median price rising from $184,500 to $192,450, a 4.3 percent increase.

The high demand for homes has made it a challenging market in which to purchase one, while a relatively easy one for sellers, something Katie and Brandon Rowland have experienced firsthand over a whirlwind year.

To help accommodate their growing family of a 6-year-old, 3-year-old and 2-month old and Katie Rowland working from home, the couple started looking for a more spacious residence than their Monroe ranch of 10 years back in August 2018.

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“Anything that we found and liked was usually gone within under a week,” Rowland said. “The nicer places are definitely selling in a day or two. You have to be prepared to bid as soon as they come up on the market.”

The couple found that looking for something move-in ready, which meant a price that was “significantly higher” than buying a new build at the same price.

That’s what the couple did, starting construction on a Liberty Twp. home earlier this year. Doing so, she said, means “we know when it will be closing and we know when the build will be done.”

In contrast, selling their Monroe home took just a day to be under contract.

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Donna Deaton, vice president, RE/MAX Victory, said she believes Butler County will see the trend of increasing home values moving forward.

“The reason we had the increase was because of low inventory. Multiple offers drove home values up,” Deaton said. “We are also seeing an increase in new construction and job growth in Butler, which means we will have more people moving in and looking for housing. Overall, it’s good news for our local market.”

Home sales for the Greater Cincinnati area dropped from 12,614 through June 2018 to 12,437 through this June, a 1.4 percent dip, with the median price rising from $173,000 to $182,500, a 5.5 percent increase.

“The market, in general, is still strong,” said Michelle Billings, CABR’s president. “The contributing factors to the drop of the number of sales is because we’re still generally working with low inventory. As far as sales prices rising, that’s due to the demand in homeowners wanting to purchase and that’s a result of interest rates remaining low.”

There’s no sign sales in Butler County or the Greater Cincinnati area will slow in the next 6 months, Billings said. A seasonal slowdown is expected not only for the holiday season, but also the start of a new school year, “because a lot of people are already wanting to get settled and get those kids back to school,” she said.

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Home prices in Cincinnati remain affordable and are below the national median of $276,000, according to Elena Dean, vice president, RE/MAX.

“Cincinnati’s housing market is beginning to balance, favoring neither buyers nor sellers,” Dean said. “We’re not seeing as many multiple offer situations as in previous years. Inventory is also increasing slightly, which is good news for buyers.”

Low housing inventory continues to strain the market. Home sales prices are up 3.4 percent over last year.

Butler County also is seeing gains in new home construction, which was up 4.4 percent through May compared to last year at the same time, while the region was down 5.8 percent through that same span.

Home permits had been on the rise in the region in 2014 (2,049 permits), 2015 (2,253 permits), 2016 (2,561 permits) and 2017 (2,935 permits), before dropping to 2,840 permits last year, according to the Home Builders Association of Greater Cincinnati.

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