Central Ohio 2019 Market Recap
(Jan. 22, 2020 – Columbus Ohio) The 2019 housing market was fueled by the overall strength of the economy across most of the country. Stock markets reached new highs throughout the year, improving the asset bases of millions of Americans.
Unemployment rates fell to 50-year lows, while wages increased, creating new home buyers. Mortgage rates also declined significantly from 2018, helping to offset affordability stresses caused by continued price appreciation nationally.
“With a strong economy and low mortgage rates, buyer activity has been strong,” said Andy Mills, Columbus REALTORS® 2020 President.” However, central Ohio has been constrained by inventory levels that are still below historical norms. With supply and demand continuing to favor sellers, prices have been rising steadily.”
Comparing 2019 to the prior year, the number of homes available for sale was lower by 6.2 percent. There were 3,886 active listings at the end of 2019. New listings increased by 0.8 percent to finish the year at 37,655.
With supply on the decline, central Ohio home sale prices increased to meet the demand. The overall median sales price increased 7.6 percent to $209,900 for the year. Single Family home prices were up 7.4 percent compared to last year, and Condo home prices were up 7.5 percent.
Sellers received, on average, 98.7 percent of their last list price at sale, which remained unchanged from 2018.
In Contracts increased 2.8 percent, finishing the year at 32,660. Closed sales were up 1.8 percent to 32,099 ending 2019 as the second strongest year for home sales.
During 2019, homes under $350,000 sold in an average of 27 days. Homes sold between $350,000 and $500,000 took about 46 days to sell. Homes in the $500,000 to $700,000 price range sold in an average of 65 days, and homes over $700,000 were on the market for an average of 89 days.
The foreclosure market continues to decline, bearing no resemblance to its former unhealthy peaks. In 2019, the percentage of closed sales that were either foreclosure or short sale decreased by 28.6 percent to end the year at 2.5 percent of the market.
While the Federal Reserve moved to temper the hot economy with four interest rate hikes in 2018, in 2019 they turned the heat back up, and reduced rates a total of three times during the year. The Fed’s rate decreases were due in part to GDP growth in 2019 that came in notably lower than 2018, showing the Fed’s alternating efforts to keep our economy at a steady simmer and not a full boil.
The housing market remains healthy nationwide with price gains and limited inventory being the most common threads across markets. But in election years, we sometimes see a softening of activity that may temper the market in the second half of the year.
New construction activity has improved but is still below levels required to fully supply the market’s needs.
Ten years after the Great Recession, the U.S. has enjoyed the longest period of continued economic expansion on record. The central Ohio housing market has been along for much of the ride and continues to benefit greatly from the overall health of the economy. However, hot economies eventually cool and with that, hot housing markets move more towards balance.
“Tight inventory continues to constrain buyer activity in some parts of the Columbus Region, while other areas, we are seeing increased seller inventory starting to improve buyers’ choices,” said Mills.
“As we look at 2020, we see continued low mortgage rates and a healthy economy giving a great start to housing in the new year.”