Central Ohio home sales plummet in May

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Central Ohio home sales fell 21% in May compared with the previous year, but climbed a bit from a horrific April, as the real estate industry continues to wrestle through coronavirus.

Throughout May, 2,542 central Ohio homes changed hands, down from 3,226 a year earlier but up from 2,277 in April, the first full month of coronavirus shut-downs.

The number of homes put on the market plunged in May, as homeowners continued to stay put during the pandemic. For-sale signs rose on 3,232 Columbus-area homes during the month, down 26.5% from a year ago.

In part because of the severe shortage of homes on the market, central Ohio prices continue to climb sharply, suggesting that buyer demand remains strong.

The median price of a home that sold in May was $233,000, up 5.9% from a year ago. So far this year, Columbus-area home prices have risen 7.4%, despite the threat of COVID-19.

"The number of homes and condominiums for sale in central Ohio remains low as buyers move quickly to purchase new inventory," said Andy Mills, president of the Columbus Realtors trade group.

"But now that we're slowly re-opening, we expect to see more homeowners list their homes for sale and housing activity to rise throughout the summer."

Statewide, home sales fell 25% from a year ago while prices were up 2.5%.

Nationally, May home sales were down 9.7% from April, the third straight month of declines, according to the National Association of Realtors, which seasonally adjusts its sales numbers.

"Sales completed in May reflect contract signings in March and April — during the strictest times of the pandemic lockdown and hence the cyclical low point," said Lawrence Yun, chief economist with The National Association of Realtors.

"Home sales will surely rise in the upcoming months with the economy reopening, and could even surpass one-year-ago figures in the second half of the year."

The health of the U.S. housing market has now fallen to the lowest level in a decade, according to the latest "Health of Housing Markets Report" published by Nationwide.

The Columbus-based insurance company found that only 44 of the nation's 400 largest metropolitan areas had healthy housing markets in the second quarter, down from 233 in the first quarter.

"The breakdown of rankings for metropolitan areas is the weakest it's been since 2010, with only about 10 percent of markets now rated positively," said David Berson, Nationwide senior vice president and chief economist.

"A quarter of all housing markets are now negative, and half are in neutral territory, showing just how widespread the impact of COVID-19 has been within local markets across the U.S."

All of Ohio's metro areas including Columbus were ranked "neutral."

Nationwide forecasts that home sales will drop 13% this year, the largest drop in year-over-year sales since 2008.

Tribune Content Agency