May home sales drop in Greater Cincinnati as anticipated

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Sales of homes for May were down in Butler County and the Greater Cincinnati area, a trend that was anticipated due to the Ohio stay-at-home order.

Home sales plummeted to 1,950 compared (a nearly 26.9% drop) to a near-record May a year ago, when sales numbered 2,667, according to statistics released Monday by the Cincinnati Area Board of Realtors.

In Butler County, the number of homes sold fell from 541 in May 2019 to 382 last month, a 29.4% drop. Warren County home sales saw a similar drop off, falling from 357 in May 2019 to 236 last month, a 33.9% decrease.

The inventory of homes for sale continued its year-over-year declining trend, dropping from 4,188 a year ago to 2,758 in May 2020, down 34.2%.

The double-digit drop in sales is due to a lack of inventory, according to Donna Deaton, managing vice president for Remax Victory in Liberty Twp.

"There are tons of buyers out there right now," Deaton said. "What does come on the market, you've got to get in there as quickly as possible and because of COVID-19 and the new protocols, what we used to be able to do is scheduled overlapping showings and now we can't, so it's difficult to get your buyer in before it goes under contract."

May home sales were expected to be down under the current restrictions, according to Kelly Meyer, president of the Cincinnati Area Board of Realtors. However, real estate in the local market "has remained strong and very active."

"Our moderate weather, low interest rates, reasonable prices and a constantly rotating inventory keeps Cincinnati among the most affordable places nationwide to live," said Meyer. "Showing activity — appointments to see a home — provides us with an early indicator to future home sales in our area."

The May average home price for the Greater Cincinnati area climbed to $238,994 compared to $231,499 a year earlier, a 3.2% increase and the 14th consecutive month average prices have been on the rise.

Butler County saw the average home price climb to $226,701 compared to $209,891 a year earlier, an 8% increase. Warren County saw the average home price climb to $301,580 compared to $288,319 a year earlier, a 4.6% increase.

Even with numerous safety measures and restrictions in place, showing activity rebounded to pre-shutdown levels. That indicates buyers and their realtors are looking and buying homes, Meyer said.

The National Association of Realtors said Monday that the monthly decline pushed sales down to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 3.91 million, the slowest pace since a home buyers tax credit expired in October 2010.

The number of homes sold across Ohio in May reached 11,794, falling 25 percent from the 15,723 sales recorded during the month a year ago, according to Ohio Realtors. May's average home price of $206,141 reflects a 2.5 percent increase from the $201,104 mark posted during the month last year.

Ohio Realtors President Chris Reese said it is important to note that the listings that are on the market are attracting buyers and boosting home prices.

"Record-low mortgage rates, which are likely to remain in place for the rest of the year, will be the key factor driving housing demand as Ohio's economy reopens," Reese said. "Still, more listings and increased home construction will be critical in meeting market demands."

Sales fell in all regions of the country, with the biggest decline coming in the Northeast where virus infections were especially heavy.

Lawrence Yun, chief economist of the Realtors, said based on anecdotal reports, he believed May could turn out to be the bottom for the housing market with sales showing a V-shaped recovery in coming months. However, many private economists believe the recovery from the disruptions caused by the coronavirus could take much longer.

Tribune Content Agency