A house is only as strong as its foundation – likewise the housing market. It’s an axiom that’s valid in the Tri-Village area, where the aging housing inventory has sustained with quality, strength, value and desirability throughout the years.
As in most other areas of the country, the real estate bubble that burst about six years ago was felt, but in Grandview Heights, Marble Cliff and Upper Arlington, the bottom didn’t drop out quite as far as it did elsewhere.
And as of this spring, prices are normal, sales are going nicely and the number of homes on the market is increasing, three veteran Realtors say.
“Real estate market trends for 2013 are positive. All the important indicators in the UA area are up: home sales are up 18 percent, average sales price is up 9.8 percent and the percent of the list price received is up 5 percent,” says Kelly Cantwell, a long-time Upper Arlington resident and agent with Street Sotheby’s International Realty.
Agent Barbara Lach with Coldwell Banker King Thompson has lived in Grandview Heights and Upper Arlington – both older and newer sections of the city – and sold real estate throughout the area for 33 years.
“What’s going on is kind of pent-up energy” being released after the presidential election cycle, among other things, kept people from moving, Lach says. The market is on the upswing.
“We fare better (here) than other areas,” she says. “We were not hit as hard.”
There was an up-tick in foreclosures for a period of time, but those are down now, too. There were not many homeowners underwater, Lach says. It was no-money-down deals that depleted the value of overpriced homes and gave owners a financial bath.
“People who couldn’t afford (those homes) shouldn’t have had them,” she says.
Today, homes in the $250,000 to $500,000 range are selling well.
“There will always be a market (in that range). … Anything above $500,000 is a whole new ballgame,” Lach says. There’s not as much traffic in that price range.
She predicts that inflated prices won’t happen again as they did in the mid-2000s.
Lach recently visited Washington, D.C. with national Realtors to discuss their concerns with members of Congress. If Congress ever does anything about rewriting the massive federal tax code, Realtors are concerned about the potential removal of mortgage interest as a tax deduction. “If they do that, it would make a lot of difference” as buyers weigh real estate investments, Lach says.
Jane Jones, in the real estate business with HER Realtors in the Tri-Village area for 17 years, says the current market is good for both sellers and buyers because of affordable prices. The mortgage market was tight for a while, but it has loosened some and appraisals are going well, which is key to getting a mortgage.
During the boom, “a lot of homes were priced high and people were paying for them,” she says.
The condition of homes varies. Lach finds that most owners are updating their homes with various amenities, such as new kitchens. Although there’s little new housing in the Tri-Village area, many buyers expect homes to be in move-in condition.
“If you wish to sell your home, you have to do something with it,” Lach says.
That includes the basics, such as getting rid of clutter. She tells would-be sellers to pack away as much as possible.
“You’re not selling your stuff,” she says.
Other steps might involve a fresh coat of paint throughout the interior. Some buyers are willing to take those steps themselves.
“A lot of homes on the market need upgrades,” Jones says.
When it comes to pricing, Lach advises her clients to consider the market, not just how much they’re hoping to get out of the house.
“If you want to sell your home, you have to price it right,” she says. “Otherwise, it’s going to sit there.”
Some owners want to set a high price, and Jones suggests trying that for a short time. If there’s no interest, it’s time to reduce it to get a quicker sale.
“People think they can list at any price, then people can make an offer. People don’t always think that way,” Jones explains.
All three Realtors are bullish on the Tri-Village market. Lach cites strong leadership and strong schools as two big pulls for the area. The location also draws many Ohio State University staff and faculty members.
“People love Grandview. It’s a small community. It has the Grandview Avenue shops. It’s very desirable for young couples,” Jones says.
Some people buy older homes for the location, raze them and build upgraded houses. Others choose to build additions or renovate the interiors.
Jones and husband Stu have lived in the same home on Edgemont Road for more than 50 years. Her father bought the four-bedroom home for $26,500, a high price at the time, and rented it to the newlyweds until they bought it. The Joneses expanded the home some with a family room, larger kitchen and master bedroom as they raised four children. Its market value today is $500,000 to $600,000, Jones says.
It’s just another indicator of the strength and stability of Tri-Village real estate.
Those thinking of listing their home should be encouraged, adds Cantwell.
“Our listing inventory is low when compared to demand. It’s becoming a common occurrence for properly prepared and priced homes to see multiple offers.”
Duane St. Clair is a contributing editor. Feedback welcome firstname.lastname@example.org.