Although central Ohio’s housing market continues its hot run, the heat has shifted from high-priced areas that led the recovery to more-affordable communities that were slow to join the party.
In the Columbus area, the median sales price in the first four months of the year was 5.6 percent higher than in the same period of last year, according to Columbus Realtors data released last week.
But in Bexley and Worthington, prices actually fell, and in Grandview Heights and Upper Arlington, they were up only slightly. Meanwhile, prices rose about 15 percent in Blacklick, 17 percent in Whitehall and 28 percent in Obetz.
“There’s no question that people are being priced out of higher-priced markets,” said Mic Gordon, president of the Columbus Realtors. “Those more-affordable areas have a larger contingency of buyers.”
The figures strictly reflect the median price of homes that sold during the first four months of the year and don’t mean that homes in high-end suburbs have stopped rising in value. But the numbers illustrate that buyers are aggressively fueling sales in lower-priced areas that had lagged a bit.
Sharp price gains have pushed some buyers out of popular neighborhoods. Worthington home prices, for example, have risen more than 40 percent since the recovery began in 2012. In Grandview Heights, they are up more than 50 percent.
While buyers would have had to pay well over $300,000 to buy a typical home in Bexley, Grandview or Upper Arlington this year, a median-priced home in Gahanna or Pickerington would have cost about $210,000.
In areas hit especially hard by the recession, such as Blacklick and Obetz, homes still commonly sell for less than $200,000.
“These places where the market crashed, like Obetz and Galloway and Blacklick, where first-time buyers got in over their heads, now are some of the only affordable areas left in Columbus,” said Lori Hicks, a Keller Williams agent who works in the Blacklick area. “It’s getting to the point where you can’t buy anything under $150,000 anywhere.”
Clintonville residents Cory and Steve Matyas intimately understand how the market has shifted.
When they bought their two-bedroom, one-bath home in 2008, theirs was the only offer. They paid $167,000, well below the original $189,900 asking price, and the seller made several improvements and paid the Matyases’ closing costs.
Now that their son is out of grade school, the Matyas want a bigger home and can find nothing in Clintonville that meets their needs for less than $300,000. They instead have turned to the West Side neighborhood of Westgate.
“Dropping over $300,000 to be in a decent-size home that needs renovation is crazy,” Cory Matyas said. “But Westgate has that similar vibe as Clintonville, similar homes and houses are half the price.”
Gahanna real-estate agent Rob Matney agrees that affordability is the key to the market’s shifting, but he also attributes some of the boom to municipal efforts.
“You look at Whitehall, it’s booming, with Heartland Bank building its headquarters there,” said Matney, who is with Berkshire Hathaway Home Services. “Cities’ economic-development departments deserve credit. They bring in jobs, and people come into the market.”