Here’s where the local housing recovery stands

Key shifts in the local housing market will affect home values, whether homeowners are buyers or sellers or not.

“I think it’s not going to go back to where it was in 2006 or 2007, nor should it, but the housing market has definitely improved,” said Brian Marischen, broker and owner of Realty First, a Hamilton-based real estate firm.

Fewer foreclosures and short sales are saturating the inventory of for-sale homes, according to real estate experts. From 2009 through 2013, an average of 24 percent of all new property listings were lender-involved. That’s since declined to 15.6 percent since the beginning of 2014, according to the Multiple Listing Service of Greater Cincinnati, a division of Cincinnati Area Board of Realtors.

“We were still I think digesting a lot of (lender-owned), foreclosure and short sale inventory last year,” said Tom Stoll, head of mortgage for Fifth Third Bank in the Cincinnati region. Now, “what you have from a quality of inventory is inventory that’s not forced to the market.”

MAP: Butler County area home sales by community »

It also means a shrinking inventory of homes available for buyers. Last month, there were 7,684 homes for sale across Cincinnati, a territory that includes Butler and Warren counties. Inventory dropped 10 percent from a year ago, according to the realtors group.

Now that homeowners are regaining equity, that could encourage more traditional home sellers to enter the market, according to realtors.

“There’s still concern about the other shoe falling,” Marischen said.

The combination of low supply and fewer distressed and discounted homes, raised the Cincinnati region’s average sold price of single family homes and condominiums to $175,418 in 2014. Sales prices factor into appraised home values. And the market-wide average sold price has surpassed 2007 levels when homes were selling for $173,997, according to the MLS.

“You just don’t have as many homes coming on the market, so therefore those that are coming on the market are going to get a little bit better price,” said John Holbrock, co-owner of Realty First.

Some neighborhoods have become a seller’s market, where homeowners are fetching close to asking prices, said Gwen Ritchie, a real estate agent for Huff Realty. There are cases of multiple offers.

“It’s a good time to get your property on the market because the inventory levels are low and prices are rising. You’ll get a better return,” Ritchie said.

Buyers want move-in ready homes with updated appliances, she said.

“If you want to buy it’s a great time to buy because the mortgage interest rates are still low,” she said, referring to rates of 3.8 percent on a fixed 30-year loan, according to Freddie Mac, the government-backed buyer of mortgage securities.

Natalie Spenceley and her family are searching for a larger house to fit their growing family. She and her husband have a four-year-old daughter and a baby on the way. But an offer placed 30 days after their three-bedroom Hamilton home was listed for sale has since been pulled out. And that caused the Spenceleys to pull their offer on a home in the area of Liberty and West Chester townships.

After living at their Hamilton house on Cameron Place for more than 10 years, Natalie said they’re eyeing a move to the townships because it’s an up-and-coming area with newer housing stock and shopping destinations.

“Houses there, sometimes we don’t have time to go look at them before they go under contract,” Spenceley said. “The only thing that worries me is if we find a buyer for our house and there’s nothing out there that’s perfect for us and we’re kind of in limbo.”

MAP: Butler County area home sales by community »

Thank you for reading the Journal-News and for supporting local journalism. Subscribers: log in for access to exclusive deals and newsletters.

Thank you for supporting in-depth local journalism with your subscription to the Journal-News. Get more news when you want it with email newsletters just for subscribers. Sign up here.

X