“We saw the second-highest year on record for home sales in 2013,” says Milt Lustnauer, president of Columbus REALTORS. Lustnauer—as well as other Columbus brokers, lenders and developers—believes the local market will continue that upward climb in 2014."
Mortgage lending isn’t as tight as it was following the housing market crash of 2007, Lustnauer says, but the days of the no-money-down mortgage are gone, and buyers need credit scores above 640 to secure loans.
Fifteen- and 30-year interest rates remain low, but they’re higher than they were in 2012 and 2013. Chip Greenlee, vice president for Union Savings Bank in Central Ohio, says the public’s expectation that rates will rise will continue to drive buyers to the market through 2014.
New housing inventory in Central Ohio is historically low, Lustnauer says. But development will pick up in 2014 after a decline in 2013. Tim Hall, Columbus area president for M/I Homes, says his company will boost development this year. “We’re getting after land in this community in a material way. In , it will be even more so,” Hall says.
The suburbs will continue to be hotspots. “It’s all going to be school-centric, because that’s what makes or breaks the market around here,” says Katie McCartney, an agent with Cam Taylor Realtors. “Grandview Heights is a hot market right now for condos and single-family homes,” Lustnauer says. Younger home buyers are attracted to the urban aesthetic of the neighborhood, which abuts the Ohio State University campus to the southwest of Downtown.
Springtime is traditionally the best time to list a home, but anytime will be a good time to sell this year given the supply-demand dynamic, Lustnauer says. It’s a first in his 33-year career.
High demand paired with low inventory means big money for sellers. Home prices in the Columbus region at the close of last year averaged $176,217, an 11.6 percent increase in prices from December 2012, according to Columbus Realtors. “Sellers need to be open to the fact that there is a market out there that can benefit them,” McCartney says.