WINTERSVILLE - The number of homes sold locally and across Ohio showed gains in May, according to the Ohio Association of Realtors and Multiple Listing Services spokesman Rick DeLuca of DeLuca Realty in Wintersville.
Statewide, OAR reports sales were up 16.2 percent in May, as the market posted year-over-year gains in activity for the 23rd consecutive month.
The data, gathered by MLS, shows sales statewide through the first five months of 2013 reached 48,255, a 15.8 percent increase from the 41,665 sales posted during the same period a year ago. The average sales price (January through May) this year statewide is $133,747, a 6.3 percent increase from the $125,846 mark set during the period a year ago.
Total dollar volume so far this year is nearly $6.5 billion, a 23.1 percent increase from the five-month mark of $5.2 billion a year ago.
While the gains locally are modest, DeLuca said he likes what he sees happening in the area of Jefferson, Belmont and Harrison counties.
"Our area is up 3.7 percent in units sold and 7.7 percent in dollar volume, and our average price is up 3.9 pecent just on the monthly total for May," he said, adding that homes "don't seem to be staying on the market long," particularly those in the $65,000 to $125,000 range."
Year-to-date numbers show drops locally in units sold, dollar value and average price, but DeLuca figures that has a lot to do with the number of properties being rented to oil and gas workers.
"I think (our market's) a lot better," he said. "A couple years ago it was really dragging, really bad, a lot Realtors got out of the business. People struggled, they got behind not just on payments, but on the values of what they borrowed. But last year was really a good year; I think our numbers in units sold were our highest in about five years, dollar values are the highest they've been in about five or six years."
OAR President Thomas J. Williams said with each passing month, "the Ohio housing market is continuing to make significant, steady progress in its effort to fully recover from the economic challenges wrought by the recession. Attaining 23 consecutive months of gains in sales activity - our longest stretch in uninterrupted growth in 16 years of tracking Ohio home sales - is a clear indicator of growing consumer confidence and a renewed appreciation that housing is a solid, long-term investment."
"Throughout Ohio we're experiencing gains in activity levels and average sales price, with 17 of the 20 markets we track showing improvement so far in 2013," Williams added. "Having so many of our individual markets record positives in a state as diverse as Ohio - with its unique blend of big urban markets and smaller, rural locales - is yet another positive indication that the Buckeye State is making significant headway in its recovery effort."
Sales in May reached 12,820, a 16.2 percent increase from the 11,029 sales posted during the month in 2012, and reached the best mark since 2007. The average sales price of $148,143 is a 9.3 percent increase from the $135,560 average price posted in May 2012.
DeLuca said as the oil and gas development progresses, "I think there's going to be more and more money floating around, so it will be easier. And as time goes on, I think lenders are going to loosen the criteria for people to get loans. Rates are still there, you can still get a good rate which means your payments will be lower, and over time, I think it's all going to get back to normal - I just hope people learned a lesson this last downturn, a really big one. We were hit pretty hard, I'd like to think people are going to watch what they do...You have to be smart when you buy a home, you have to be wise with your money."
Still, he said the market is looking up.
"(It was) pretty rough for a few years, but last year was really good and this year has been good," he said.