More Demand in Valley for Higher Priced Houses

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio — Higher priced houses in the Mahoning Valley are on the move once again and enjoying a market not seen since the days before the Great Recession, real estate agents observe.

“Consumer confidence is high, interest rates are still low, and gas prices are low,” notes Holly Ritchie, an agent for Keller Williams Chervenic Realty. “Right now, everything is bright as stars in the sky.”

This optimism is especially pertinent for higher-end houses that command big asking prices. “Our higher-priced homes are moving a lot faster,” Ritchie says.

It’s a U-turn from 2008 when the housing market collapsed and banks reined in their lending, essentially placing the entire real estate industry in a deep freeze, Ritchie recalls. “Nothing was moving,” she says.

The market has since climbed back, especially for houses at or above the $500,000 range, she says. In the five years between Jan. 1, 2008, and Dec. 31, 2012, for example, 68 houses priced at $500,000 or above were sold in Mahoning, Trumbull and Columbiana counties. However, since Jan. 1, 2013, the market has witnessed 76 sales of $500,000-plus houses, more sales in this sector than the entire five years that began in 2008.

Ritchie’s highest-priced house on the market is in Canfield Township, a sprawling 10,000-square-foot house on 14 acres at 8288 Maplevale Drive and listed for $2.3 million. Another house along Akron-Canton Road on 35 acres commands an asking price of $1.2 million.

“We’ve recovered, and we’re just about where we were before the collapse,” says Angela Javorsky, an agent for Keller Williams. “Favorable interest rates and low inventory are making our lives easier.”

Javorsky observes there’s a lack of inventory in the region when it comes to houses priced between $250,000 and roughly $400,000. “The rural properties are commanding better dollars,” she says.

As a rule, higher-priced houses remain on the market longer than those under the $200,000 mark, Javorsky says, noting the target market is also much smaller. However, the Mahoning Valley has some of the best real estate values in the country, and those who work out of town in Akron or Cleveland are willing to endure a longer commute in return for more house for the money.

“You can buy so much more home for the price here,” she says. “It’s one of the most affordable areas to live in the country.”

A good example is a house Javorsky has listed for $424,500 in Berlin Center. “It’s 2,100 square feet on eight acres and has its own lake,” she says. “It’s perfect for the one who is busy all week and can enjoy the weekends at home.”

There’s perhaps no better example of an improving market than developments such as Westbury Park, just off Gibson Road in Canfield. Five years ago, several houses in this upscale development – they range from $250,000 to more than $300,000 –that were under construction but abandoned and left unfinished when the builder went out of business.

Today, those houses have been finished, are on the market, and there is a potential expansion in the works at Westbury, says Wendy Weiss of Stonebridge Neighborhoods, the development company that has since assumed control of the development.

“We took over Westbury, turned it around, and now feel there’s been activity there in particular,” she says. Stonebridge looks over four residential housing developments in the area – Westbury Park, Westbury Carriage Homes, Stonebridge and Saybrook Pointe in Canfield, and Woodland Estates in Hudson.

Allison Sedoris, a home designer and planner for Brownstone Construction, says today’s homebuyers look for open floor plans and new construction appears to be strong. “We’ve done about 20 homes over the last four or five years,” she says. “We also do remodeling and commercial construction.”

At Westbury, for example, Weiss notes there are still lots for sale to build houses and the developer has plans for expansion. A new phase is also planned for the Stonebridge development. “Banks are more willing to lend,” she reports, “and we hope the trends are going to continue.”

Weiss says that Stonebridge has two single-family houses in Westbury on the market, started two other custom homes in its other developments, began construction on a spec home, sold another spec house this year, and plans to soon build yet another house on spec.

“We haven’t done spec homes in eight years,” she says. “There’s been a huge upswing in interest this year. I don’t think it’s a fluke.”

Pictured: This 10,000-square-foot house on 14 acres at 8288 Maplevale Drive in Canfield Township is listed for sale at $2.3 million.

Copyright 2022 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.