Area realtors reported strong sales in 2019 and conditions pointing to similar patterns in the new year.
“2019 was a very strong year,” said Bruce Schlosser, regional manager and broker for Berkshire Hathaway.
He said sales were slightly behind the 2018 numbers, but it was very close with 1,152 sales completed.
The sales prices are slightly down from last year, but during the two years, housing sales are up 22.7 percent, Schlosser said. He said prices were up 12.7 percent in 2018 and 10 percent in 2019.
“It is very, very strong,” he said.
The big problem for realtors is the lack of available inventory on the market.
“People are staying in their homes longer,” Schlosser said.
The lack of inventory has led to multiple offers on some homes, Schlosser said. He said it has been a long time since multiple offers appeared on homes in the county.
The homes that are for sale have been going quickly, Schlosser said.
“The average days on the market has definitely been down,” he said.
Looking to the new year, Schlosser said he sees more of the same on the horizon.
“I’d look very much for a similar year,” he said.
The supply end of the market will likely continue to be an issue in 2020, Schlosser said.
“We have a small amount of entry-level homes,” Schlosser said. He said fewer people are doing the traditional four houses in a life time.
Realtors said many houses that are in need of work can’t be sold because the need for new roofs, siding etc. are cost prohibitive for first-time home buyers.
Debbie Woodworth, incoming Ashtabula County Board of Realtors president and realtor for Keller Williams Greater Cleveland Southeast, said it has been a good year, but also hopes for more homes on the market.
“The year has been wonderful. I have been busy all year,” she said.
Woodworth said she has also seen more home construction in 2019.
“I have had more custom build [homes],” she said.
“I think Ashtabula County is very healthy right now,” Woodworth said. She said the county has a lot to offer and home buyers are starting to see some of the advantages to living in the area.
She said the growth of the Ashtabula County Metroparks and the proximity to wineries is a drawing card for potential residents.
Janis Dorsten, a broker for Gillespie Realty LLC., also reported good sales.
“Last year was busy, exciting, fun,” she said.
Dorsten said she has been working with foreclosures for more than a decade and continues to be busy even though the volume and intensity of the crisis between 2008 and 2015 has abated.
“I specialize in foreclosure. Foreclosure became a norm,” she said of the problems stemming from the housing crisis that started in 2008 and devastated the county and much of the nation.
She said social and economic changes made foreclosing a way out of a bad situation that was formerly only a possibility in the worst of circumstances.
“It is not happening as much,” Dorsten said, but has noticed a slight uptick in 2019.
Working with people in foreclosure is very difficult because their financial situations have taken such a bad turn.
“I work with houses where you go ‘Oh my goodness,’” she said of the condition of the homes.
Dorsten said people are just trying to keep the housing and lights on and haven’t paid their mortgage for months. She said they try and get the person to work with the bank to save the home, but it is often too late.
The option of working with foreclosure properties can be rewarding, but the ability for the investor to have the resources to make the needed repairs and upgrades needed to sell the house is essential.
Dorsten said 90 percent of the foreclosure sales end up working out because of legal standards provided by the state and the realtor understanding the person buying the house is a consumer that must be dealt with fairly.
During the depths of the housing crisis many of the people buying homes to fix weren’t necessarily well financed and were looking for a quick, easy profit.
“There were a lot more people looking to make a buck,” she said.
Dorsten said realtors work together to help families losing homes.
“We pull together as a realtor community,” she said.