The regional market continues to grow, with jobs being added and new residents coming to town.

When it comes to predicting real estate trends this year, the crystal ball wielded by housing prognosticators tends toward the murky side.

In fact, the Urban Land Institute’s Emerging Trends annual report issued at the end of last year says the only certainty in the national real estate market is uncertainty.

Locally, real estate agents don’t necessarily disagree with that analysis, but they are a bit more upbeat.

“In Central Ohio the market should remain relatively strong, but I think it will slow down some if interest rates increase,” says John Meyers, owner of Meyers Real Estate and 2019 president of the Columbus Board of Realtors. “What will the feds do and what will happen with the economy? That is the uncertainty.”

Meyers and others see many positive signs locally, which include strong buyer demand through most of last year, a growing population and new jobs.

Even as Central Ohio’s market stabilized at year’s end with homes-in-contract down 4.1 percent from the previous year, 3,059 homes and condos were added to the market in October, showing a 5 percent increase in listings above the previous year.

“Normally, we would not see an increase, so that speaks to the market still being robust,” Meyers says. “But we’re still low on inventory because of the speed at which inventory is being eaten up by demand.”

Sara Walsh, a real estate agent with RE/MAX Impact and past president of the Columbus Board of Realtors, said last year’s local market was hot when it came to an average price point, but cooler on the upper price levels. In October, the average sales price of a home in Central Ohio was just over $225,500.

“At year’s end the time on market for homes increased by 14 percent, which equals four days on the market,” Walsh says. “And we were seeing fewer immediate multiple-buyer offers on homes.”

Nonetheless, Walsh predicted a strong coming year.

“But we may not have the number of record-setting months we’ve had in the last year or two,” she says.

New housing surely will be needed, but if that occurs Walsh says local governments must begin partnering better with developers.

“Often developers have difficult times with the zoning and permitting processes,” Walsh says. “When you make things difficult and expensive for developers, you make it very expensive for renters and buyers. So, until we get more public-private partnerships working, everyone will pay more.”