Tight Inventory Boosts Shenango House Sales

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio — Residential real estate in the Shenango Valley is on track for a solid finish in 2019, real estate agents say.

Year-to-date, 250 houses in the Shenango Valley have sold for a combined $30 million with an average sale price of $120,000, up from about $100,000 in 2018, according to numbers provided by Julie Cylenica, manager and associate broker with the Shenango Valley and Greenville offices of Howard Hanna and president-elect of the Greater Mercer County Association of Realtors Inc.

In the Shenango Valley office of Howard Hanna, the number of closed sales remains steady, but sales are up about $3 million year-to-date, Cylenica says.

Of the houses sold last year in Shenango Valley, 78 ranged in price from $50,000 to $100,000 and 50 were below $50,000. Another 48 ranged from $101,000 to $150,000, 38 between $151,000 and $200,000, and 33 at $201,000 or more.

Fewer foreclosures and repossessed houses benefited this year’s market, Cylenica says. “Also, when you have several buyers fighting over one property, that tends to get the seller their full price.” 

Tight inventory and many buyers made for a competitive market from March to May, but additional listings and new construction are giving the housing stock some relief, she says.

“We’re building up a great inventory for our fall market. I expect we’re going to sail through the end of the year,” she says.

More rural parts of Shenango County, such as Sharpsville and West Middlesex, typically lack many available homes, says Norm Swiger, agent with Re/Max Renaissance Realty West and president of the association. Those areas might have 15 to 20 houses on the market while “in Sharon or Hermitage, it’s more like 75,” he says.

Although prices for single-family houses are increasing, older houses with modern upgrades command higher selling prices, Swiger says.

“If a house was built in the ’50s or ’60s and still has everything original from back then, it will put it well below market value,” he says. “But if it’s new and clean and the colors are modern, that house is going to sell more quickly and typically above market value.”

For bigger-ticket houses – those priced $200,000 or higher – the cost of building new is similar to the cost of buying an existing house, which is driving an increase in new construction so far this year, according to Tyler Johnson, broker of record with ERA Johnson Real Estate in Hermitage. “If someone can get exactly what they want for the same money, they obviously will build for that,” he says.

As more qualified buyers enter the market, driving a higher average sale price and average list to sales-price ratio – up to 93.75% from 92.5% in 2018 – new construction could temper the sellers’ market for higher-priced houses, Johnson says. Appraisals for those houses are “at actual or slightly below” listing prices for houses that are five to 10 years old, he says. “So you definitely have some competition.” 

Of the nine building permits issued for single-family houses in Hermitage so far this year, just two are under $200,000 with the most expensive nearly $500,000, according to numbers provided by the city’s zoning office.

“We could possibly be around 16 or 18 by the end of the year for 2019,” says Marcia Hirschmann, director of planning and development. 

Last year, Hermitage saw 76 building permits in total  for new single-family houses, condominiums and apartments, up from 17 the year before. “That was a pretty significant uptick,” Hirschmann says. However, just 16 were for single-family houses.

Multifamily developments and condos are “a very hot market,” confirms Howard Hanna’s Cylenica. It’s driving construction of new condos, particularly patio houses with a first-floor master suite and laundry, she says.

“There’s a lot of homeowners who are in the $300,000 to $600,000 price range who are now empty-nesters,” she says. “They don’t want to move to a typical condominium and have neighbors all around and want to have some independence. And they can easily afford a $250,000 home.”

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