May 21, 2022

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March home sales fell 6.7% in Northeast Ohio, as listing woes continued

2 min read

Northeast Ohio home sales slipped in March, as a persistent listings shortage and rising interest rates kept some prospective buyers on the sidelines.

Sales dropped by 6.7% from their March 2021 levels, according to listing-service data spanning 18 counties. The pace of purchasing did rebound from February, when winter storms chilled an already dysfunctional market.

Buyers closed on 3,775 houses and condominiums in the region last month, according to MLS Now, a listing service based in Independence. The average sale price for a house was $233,442, up 12.5% from a year before. The typical condo commanded $186,600, a 16.4% annual jump.

New listings increased from February to March, heading into the traditional spring sales season. But inventory remains scarce — driving prices ever higher even as the cost of borrowing climbs.

The total supply of homes for sale in the Cleveland-Elyria-Mentor area was down a whopping 15.4% last month, when compared with March 2021, according to an analysis from the Redfin real estate brokerage.

“We expect the combination of surging mortgage rates and record-high home prices to cause more homebuyers to drop out of the market,” said Daryl Fairweather, the Seattle-based company’s chief economist, in a Friday, April 15, report.

The interest rate on the average 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage surpassed 4% in March and hit 5% this month, according to data from government-sponsored mortgage company Freddie Mac. That rise, to the highest level in more than a decade, is straining buyers’ budgets and putting a damper on requests for new loans and refinancings.

“Unfortunately, homeowners are turning their back on the market, too,” Fairweather said in Redfin’s report. “Instead of being motivated to list before prices weaken, potential home sellers may be choosing to wait out the impending market cooldown.”

March sales fell in 16 of the 18 counties that MLS Now tracks. Mahoning and Trumbull were the two exceptions.

In Cuyahoga County, sales tumbled 7.1% from a year before. The average sale price, meanwhile, rose 16%, to $234,192. In Summit County, which is experiencing more modest price growth, sales slid by 3.4%.

Across the region, single-family homes sold in March spent an average of 41 days on the market. Condo sales closed after an average of 32 days. Medina County is seeing particularly swift transactions, with an average market time of 25 days. Listing windows are much longer — three months, on average — in some outlying, rural areas.

The Ohio Realtors trade group will release its monthly sales data on Wednesday, April 20. That morning, the National Association of Realtors is scheduled to report on March sales of previously owned properties.

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