Six-Figure List Price? No Problem for High-End Residential Real Estate

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – David Klacik, part owner of Klacik Real Estate in Poland, has a house he says is an “outstanding” value for the asking price. 

The 11,000-square-foot house, at 4308 Leffingwell Road in Canfield, is situated on six acres that include an in-ground pool, a horse pasture, a tennis court and even a go-kart track.

The listing price: $1.1 million.

“High-end residential has been building momentum in Mahoning County,” Klacik says. “The value that we’re seeing placed on the existing homes in the higher-end range is outstanding.”

In 2019, just five existing houses in the $700,000 to $1.5 million range were sold in Mahoning County, Klacik says. Last year, double that number were sold.

That figure excludes newly constructed houses, he says. “It’s so easy to get into a $1 million home in new construction due to the rising cost of materials and land pricing,” he says.

This is a view of the custom kitchen at the house in Canfield listed for sale at $1.1 million.

Area real estate professionals point to a mix of factors driving activity in the high-end market, including interest rates, improved local economic prospects and pent-up demand because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“Interest rates are beautiful right now. You can get more bang for your buck,” says Kelly Warren, owner and broker at Kelly Warren & Associates Real Estate Solutions, Boardman.

Warren & Associates has had several sales in the $500,000-plus range in recent months, including properties in Canfield and one in Trumbull County, she says.

One of the offerings Warren lists right now is a $799,000 house custom-built in 1995 on Springfield Road in Poland.

On the market for about three months as of mid-March, the house is just under 6,000 square feet on 2 ½ acres. It features four bedrooms and two offices. It’s had a few showings, plus lots of internet traffic and a couple of calls.

“That house is just spectacular,” Warren says. “It’s got a water view, which is nice, and it’s steps from the lake.”

Last March, just before the COVID-19 pandemic hit and “slowed things down,” Jill Herock of Burgan Real Estate, Boardman, listed a 7,000-square-foot lakefront house on Lake Milton. The house was on the market about six months before it was sold for $1.6 million in September.   

“It’s lakefront and it’s also on Northeast River Road so you get the sunset,” Herock says. “There’s nothing like sunsets out here at Lake Milton.”

The market is strong for properties in the $500,000 to $800,000 range, but houses above that range typically take longer to sell, says Alicia Kosec, northeastern regional vice president for Pittsburgh-based Howard Hanna Real Estate Services, which has local offices in Canfield, Poland and Howland.

Among the company’s current listings is a $1.6 million house in Canfield. “It just needs the right buyer,” she says.

Last summer, Hanna Real Estate listed a traditional Georgian colonial custom built by Jim Dunlap on 3.3 acres on Candy Woods Drive in Poland. Built in 1994, the woodworking and the detailing evoked the grand houses on Fifth Avenue in Youngstown, Kosec says.

“It could have been built in the early 1900s but it was still very functional,” she says. “This was just so timeless. It was classical.” Listed July 16, it sold in 44 days for $1.55 million.

Holly Ritchie of Keller Williams Chervenic Realty, Canfield, says she anticipates a great year.

“The market in general is crazy because there’s absolutely nothing available,” she says.

Interest rates have risen slightly but remain attractive and people in the $500,000-plus range likely never lost jobs or missed work over the past year, she observes.

Many homeowners list in the spring, particularly after the NCAA college basketball tournament, Ritchie notes.

“Within the next month there should be more properties hitting the market,” she says.

Low interest rates are fueling the market in the high-end category. Those rates are “getting the buyers an opportunity to get more square footage for the price,” Klacik says.

He also attributes strong activity in the local market to new-job creation in the Mahoning Valley.

Inventory overall is moving quickly but there is less activity in the higher-end category than in the lower price points, Warren says.

The Mahoning Valley market allows people to buy a much bigger house than they could elsewhere. And with the pandemic having expanded remote work options, people with jobs in markets like Cleveland can purchase properties here and work at home rather than drive to work in distant cities every day.

Additionally, improvements people made in their homes during the pandemic created more value in houses when they went to sell them, the agents agree.

Mike Drew, an agent with Altobelli Real Estate in Niles, cites prospective buyers widening their searches as a factor helping to drive action in the local high-end segment.

“Part of it is people are expanding where they are looking. Maybe they don’t need to be so close to the city,” he says. “That’s the benefit of the higher-end market – somebody who has to live close to Cleveland or Pittsburgh or Akron moving this way to save on property taxes and get more for their money.”

Drew is handling a property on Howland-Wilson Road in Howland that’s listed for $649,900. Situated on three acres, the nearly 5,000-square-foot, five-bedroom house has a wine cellar, a large master bedroom and a glass-sided room that hangs over the driveway.

“It’s like a ski resort in the wintertime. Any season, you really can’t beat it,” he says. “It’s just a breathtaking view.”

The house also is set back so it can’t be seen from the main road and even the neighbors can’t see it unless it’s winter and the trees are bare. It’s been on the market about six months.     

“We’ve had a lot of prospective buyers look at it. It’s a different design so it definitely takes the right person to fit the design of it,” Drew says.

The market – at most price points – is “pretty hot right now,” says Wendy Perez, a real estate agent with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Stouffer Real Estate, Boardman.

Demand is great and supply is “slim to none,” she says. Nearly every offer she submits contains escalation clauses because the prospective buyers want to go above the asking price if they need to.

“Realtors are really stunned,” she says. “We don’t know if the pandemic has a lot to do with it [or] if it’s the interest rates being this low.”

Among the properties Perez represents is a house under construction at Firestone Farms in Columbiana – where new construction is being incentivized with a 15-year abatement on property taxes.

The house won’t be completed until August.  

“I am in the process of listing it and in the last two days I’ve had six inquiries,” she says. “This will be listed about $649,000. So I have a feeling it will be a multiple-offer situation.”  

There is a waiting list 19 families deep for lots at the Westford Lifestyle Community in Canfield, according to Perez. Lots sold out despite rising from $80,000 to $150,000 on the golf-course side and from $60,000 to $100,000 on the other side.

The Hermitage, Pa., office of Howard Hanna Real Estate Services now has two $500,000 properties under contract and in January closed on a $565,000 house, reports Julie Cylenica, manager and associate broker.

Some buyers are coming from within Mercer and Lawrence counties. But many are from outside the area, including places like Texas and the Carolinas, she says.

“I’d say $750,000 and up is challenging but we’re doing quite well in the $400,000 to $600,000 range,” Cylenica says.

One of the properties Cylenica’s office has listed is an $869,000, custom-built house constructed in 1994 on 2 ½ acres.  

Much of the activity is people moving to the region from larger urban centers and looking for a quieter environment.  

“They want more space. They want more land. And in many cases they can get a much better value for their money,” Cylenica says. “People have already sold their houses in other areas of the country and they are able to buy and close quickly.”  

Berkshire Hathaway’s Perez notes the buyers of one $559,000 listing in Westford that she handled were from San Diego.

“They moved there 30-some years ago planning to retire here and so they bought this,” she says. “Most of my buyers that are higher-end are local and we can’t find anything.”  

People interested in houses on Lake Milton typically have to wait until April or May, Burgan Realty’s Herock says. That’s when people who own houses there decide whether they want to stay or move.

“There’s not a lot left out there so you really are kind of in the sellers’ hands,” she says.

Herock has three clients who would spend between $500,000 and $900,000 for a property on the lake. Two properties are available for just over $1 million but the prospective buyers “don’t want to go that high.”

Pictured at top: This custom-designed contemporary house in Canfield is listed for sale at $1.1 million.