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It’s a seller’s market: House buyers frustrated as supply bottoms out and prices soar

Published: Mar. 11, 2021 at 1:17 PM EST|Updated: Mar. 11, 2021 at 6:00 PM EST
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TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) - After a year of low supply, potential home buyers are on the verge of giving up.

According to Northwest Ohio Realtors, the cost of a single-family home in Northwest Ohio has risen sharply over the past year. Cost per square foot was nearly 20 percent higher in Lucas and Wood counties in January over the same time last year. Meanwhile, the amount of time homes spend on the market is down 20%.

Toledo-based realtor Rick Turner, with Key Realty, says he’s never seen the market like this in all his years in the business. Houses are selling so fast that potential buyers can’t keep up.

“My daughter tells me all the time, “I hate our house. I can’t move. It’s so cramped,” says Sunni Katsanis.

Katsanis and her husband have been saving every penny for two years to buy a house where they can raise their two daughters. But houses are going so fast that she can rarely get a showing, let alone make an offer.

“Sometimes you find a place that’s like ‘I love it, I love it,’ and you have to remind yourself that you’re probably not going to get it, so just don’t get excited about it,” says Katsanis.

Turner says in the midst of the pandemic, people are hesitant to let strangers into their homes or to make major changes such as selling. And those who would typically be forced to sell if they couldn’t afford their property are protected under COVID mortgage relief measures. This has led to a drop in supply.

But demand is still high. Interest rates are low, which attracts many different kinds of buyers. Turner says he’s being contacted by a lot of out-of-town buyers - those who are looking to take advantage of Toledo’s low housing costs, relative to other major cities. And with the rise in remote work, Northwest Ohio is becoming more feasible for people who want to keep their job, but live in a more affordable area. Out of town investors are also keen to purchase houses to rent out later.

“These interest rates allow potential buyers to go and purchase a house cheaper than they can rent. Out of state investors also know that, so they want to come to our area and purchase properties that will go on a cash flow,” says Turner.

Turner says this has resulted in homes selling in a matter of days, or even hours, rather than the weeks it typically takes in this region. People are increasingly purchasing homes without a showing just based on pictures online.

With the surge of speedy outside buying, it’s hard for local buyers, like Sunni Katsanis, to compete.

“It’s just really discouraging. It’s hard to let your kids down like that,” says Katsanis.

But as the vaccine rolls out and things return to normal, Turner is confident that the market will fluctuate again as more people feel comfortable listing their homes. In the meantime, he recommends that potential buyers lower their expectations. Get pre-approved and make your offer as appealing to sellers as possible. It is, after all, their market.

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