High-End Housing Market ‘Leading the Charge’

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio — It’s one of the more fun ways to browse real estate listings. Price high-to-low to imagine living in a house with all the amenities money can buy and with more bedrooms and bathrooms than you really need.

High-end houses, though, play an important role in the vitality of the real estate market of the region, agents say.

“It’s currently in a much healthier state with the executive, upper-scale market leading the charge,” says John McCarthy, broker with Mayo & Associates Inc., in Boardman. “The executive home has led us out of the economic hangover.”

While the definition of the high-end real estate market can vary from agent to agent, there are a few constants. Ample land of is a must, as are updated bathrooms and kitchens. Up-to-date technology, such as alarm systems or smart-house systems, is also a plus.

“There’s a lot more money going into outdoor spaces for kitchens and patio setups for entertaining,” McCarthy says. “Even though we don’t have a lot of outdoor party time in Ohio, people are putting money into the outside of their house.”

McCarthy and Richard O’Brien, a fellow broker at Mayo, define the bottom of the upscale market at $300,000. At Burgan Real Estate in Boardman, broker Sue Filipovich looks at those above $350,000 as high-end, although “there are some we’re seeing in the $250,000 range that aren’t completely updated,” she says.

Meanwhile, Holly Ritchie Keller at Williams Chervenic Realty puts the pricing point at $500,000.

“They usually come with a little bit more land, a pool, a finished basement,” Ritchie says. “Those are the hot-ticket items. People want mature landscaping. They want an in-ground pool. They want breathing room.”

For all four real estate agents, the top markets for such houses are at both ends of the U.S. Route 224 corridor, in Canfield and Poland, with good activity also seen in places such as Howland and Columbiana County.

“Canfield is the hot market. It always has been,” O’Brien says. “We just got a contract that’s asking $900,000. And in Poland, behind the high school, we sold a condo for $400,000.”

Adds McCarthy, “Lake Milton has always been big for summer homes. Those with good views of the lake sell quickly and well above the normal price-per-square-foot range.”

And properties in the upscale market are moving quickly. In one week in late May, O’Brien and McCarthy say Mayo & Associates had four $400,000 houses under contract and two closed, along with a listing at $495,000 for a house on Longview Circle in North Lima.

Ritchie recently had a house in North Jackson, listed at $250,000, that had an offer before it was listed.

“There’s nothing in that price range, so buyers are looking,” she says. “They drove by, saw the sign, called their agent, who called me. I didn’t even have pictures yet. And they made an offer right there.”

During the Great Recession, Ritchie says, it wasn’t uncommon for $500,000-plus houses to be on the market upward of nine months.

But there are a few tricks to getting high-priced houses off the market quickly. Ritchie points to one house in Salem that was on the market for more than three years, originally listed at $725,000. Most of the walls were painted in bold colors or had wallpaper and there was carpet throughout. It eventually sold last month for $519,000.

“Buyers expect stunning hardwood floors, no wallpaper, updated carpeting and finished basement. The problem with higher-end homes is that people live in them,” Ritchie says, noting that for that price range people expect perfect homes when they’re shopping.

“Buyers paying over $300,000 want everything done,” Filipovich says. “They don’t want to pay that, then have to spend another $50,000. And I don’t blame them.”

McCarthy adds that buyers today are more market savvy, knowing exactly what they’re looking for in a home and often avoid settling for something that’s less than perfect.

“If they’re move-in ready, you’ll get multiple offers. Whether you’re in the upscale market or the traditional market, no one wants to buy someone else’s problems,” he says.

And with low inventory throughout the area across all market segments, prices are rising. As of May 29, there were 78 houses sold in Mahoning, Trumbull and Columbiana counties for more than $300,000, with an average price of $391,000 and a maximum of $1.025 million.

“The market has been on an upswing. And it’s not just Youngstown. It’s the state and it’s national,” Filipovich says. “Because our inventory is considerably down from last year, we have 9% fewer homes sold but the average price has gone up 6.5%. We’d be selling more homes if there were more homes on the market.”

Buyers, all four agents agree, are a healthy mix of people relocating within the market and people moving here. McCarthy estimates the split at 70-30, favoring local buyers who move elsewhere in the area.

“There are some out-of-town buyers and we’ve seen people who’ve moved out of the area and want to come back because they have a job where they can work from anywhere,” Filipovich says. “It’s [people] moving in but it’s also moving up.”

Pictured at top: This house at 180 Longview Circle in North Lima is listed for sale at $495,000. It sits on 2.4 acres with a large private backyard.

Copyright 2022 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.