Median Price, Home Sales Up in 3-County Region

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Sue Filipovich, president of the Youngstown Columbiana Association of Realtors, is encouraged by the trends she sees in the Mahoning Valley real estate market.

For the first five months of this year, key metrics for Mahoning, Trumbull and Columbiana counties paint a generally encouraging picture for the residential real estate market.

Through May 31, sales of single-family dwellings in the three counties collectively are up 5.5% over the first five months of 2015, according to data provided by YCAR. “Those sales are starting to climb up and that’s a good sign,” Filipovich says.

Median sale price in May for the three counties was $78,000, up from $77,000 in May 2015, she continues. “So just a slight increase here, which is healthy,” she remarks. “We don’t want to see any high spikes because we know when that occurs, then we see the drops that aren’t as healthy.”

Filipovich, a real estate agent and productivity coach with Keller Williams Chervenic Realty, attributes the stronger market to an influx of first-time buyers in their in their 20s and 30s. Many neighborhoods are seeing transitions, she adds, as couples whose children have moved out are downsizing and young families move into the properties. Low interest rates also encourage buyers, she says.

Interest in buying a house is strong in communities that “have a lot to offer as far as activities, parks, schools and that type of thing,” where families with young children want to rear them, she says.

In-demand communities include Boardman, Poland, Austintown, Canfield, Howland, Champion, Cortland and parts of Columbiana.

“We’re not seeing a whole lot of new construction or new developments opening up right now,” she says. Ranch-style villas are being developed in some areas, targeting couples looking to downsize. “They don’t have to worry about steps or exterior upkeep, and they can move right in and be in a nice, safe community with people of the same age as them,” she says.

As of June 6, Mahoning County had issued 53 building permits for single-family dwellings, compared to 128 for all of 2015 and 134 in 2014.

Trumbull County has issued building permits for 42 single-family structures as of early June. That compares with 73 for all of 2015 and 77 in 2014.

“We would like to break 100 single-family dwellings” for the year, says Michael Sliwinski, chief building inspector for the county. “That would be a very good year for us and a start back to recovery.”

It’s also a target that’s well within reach, he asserts. The county typically gets one rush of applications in the spring, another in the fall.

Howland Township already has issued nearly as many permits to build new houses in 2016 as it had for all of 2015, reports Kim Mascarella, township planning director. Last year, the township issued 11 permits for the entire year. Already this year it’s issued nine, with a 10th ready to be issued.

Mascarella is encouraged by the progress, but acknowledges the numbers are a far cry from the early 2000s, when the township had several subdivisions booming. “All of that stopped as of 2008,” she remarks. The following year the township issued permits for five houses, and just four houses the two years after that. “It’s been creeping up since 2011,” she says.

Howland has seen “an uptick in calls and interest” for multifamily condominium, she reports. “So that indicates to us that things will improve in the residential sector in Howland,” she says.

Mascarella doesn’t expect a repeat of the boom years for residential construction in Howland anytime soon, even though interest is rising. The township lacks a surplus of land for single-family dwellings.

Austintown has issued seven residential permits so far this year, half of what it issued for all of 2015, Darren Crivelli, township zoning inspector, reports.

“Our biggest problems is we’re running out of lots,” he says.

The city of Canfield has issued two permits so far this year, zoning inspector Mike Cook says. The city gets calls “but there’s not much open land left,” he notes.

Boardman has issued one permit for a new house, says Marilyn Kenner, assistant zoning inspector. The township is “pretty much built out” in terms of residential development, she says.

“It’s been an odd year,” says Bill Clipse, president and owner of Meander Homes in Austintown. “Normally I would have [orders for] 10 houses right after the first of the year. This year I didn’t get that big spurt,” he says.

Clipse has a couple of houses he is working on, including a model house he just started framing in Holly Hill Estates in Hubbard and a spec condominium. It doesn’t take long to build a few spec properties and not have them sell, which ties up equity.

“The banks don’t want to loan on that type of stuff,” he says.

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