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Economy

Ohio Home Sales Hit Highest Level Since Great Recession

sold home graphic
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Ohio home sales are at their highest levels since the Great Recession.

Home sales in Ohio are at their highest level since the Great Recession. That's according to a new report from Ohio Association of Realtors (OAR).

Nationwide, home sales were relatively flat in 2017. But in Ohio, the numbers have been climbing. In Northeast Ohio, nearly 46,000 units have sold so far this year, marking the highest level of pending home sales in the region since the Realtors' group started tracking the statistic in 2008.

"We're just Steady Eddy, which is a great place to be," said association President Pete Kopf,

Low interest rates on mortgates and a rising economy have helped boost home-buying. Plus "there's a lot of pent up demand," Kopf said. "There were a lot of people who sat on the sidelines during the recession."

graph of Ohio home sales by year
Credit ADRIAN MA / WCPN
Pending home sales began a plunge before the Great Recession. They've reached their highest level since then, but home sales are still below pre-recession levels. (Source: Ohio Association of Realtors)

"The housing market really drives the economy for many reasons," Kopf said.

When people buy homes, they don't just pay sellers. Lawyers, movers, and furniture dealers make a buck, too. Kopf said if interest rates stay low and the economy keeps improving, homes sales will probably continue to trend up.

But there's a cloud on the horizon. In Ohio, and around the country, the supply of for-sale properties hasn't kept up with demand.

Nationwide, the housing inventory has declined for nearly 30 consecutive months, according to Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the National Association of Realtors. In some Ohio markets, that shortage of housing inventory is driving prices up to record levels.

“Until new home construction climbs even higher and more investors and homeowners put their home on the market, sales will continue to severely trail underlying demand," said Yun.

That could change next year, Kopf said, if elevated prices convince more homeowners to sell. But if they don't, he says many first- or second-time buyers may find purchasing a home less affordable.