A shortage of for-sale homes continues to drive up real estate prices statewide. New data from the Ohio Association of Realtors shows the average home sale price in February—about $165,889—was 8.8 percent higher than the same period last year.
Northeast Ohio saw a similar bump, with the average purchase price increasing from $137,107 to $148,967 between February 2017-18, an increase of 8.7 percent.
"This market is very competitive for buyers," said Jackie Collesi, a realtor at Howard Hanna. That's driving up prices and resulting in more sales with multiple bidders, she said.
Good for home sellers. Not so much for buyers, like Candice Kortyka.
Kortyka began house hunting last fall. And twice she put offers on homes, only to be outbid. After scouring the web, she found a third property in Lakewood. The house, she said, had "horrible curb appeal."
"It looks plain and kind of sad," Kortyka said, but "once I took the time to click on the pictures I realized, 'Oh this is really nice on the inside.'"
She made an offer, and initially, was outbid. But then, a lucky break. The original buyer fell through. In the end, Kortyka got the home for $180,000—about $20,000 over her original budget.
Similarly, Janet Rohlik and her boyfriend ended up hitting a wall in their housing search in Lake County.
"We had looked at every single house on the market in our price range and ruled every house out," Rohlik said.
One house looked good on the inside, but was right next to a railroad track. Another was the right price but needed a lot fixing. And the properties that looked most promising would get snatched before they could even visit them. In the end, they couldn't find a house that fit their needs, so instead, they bought an empty lot where they plan to build their own.
"Ideally, this isn't what we wanted to do. We also spent a lot more money than we wanted," Rohlik said.
Ohio isn’t the only market experiencing scarce housing inventory. According to the real estate website Redfin, the number of for-sale properties nationally has declined for almost 30 straight months.
Because of the scarcity in marketable homes, "buyers have to be a lot more careful now than they were three years ago," said Collesi.
Still, Collesi said she expects more homes to come on the market this Spring, which may relieve some of the upward pressure on prices.
On the other hand, if housing supply remains low, many more buyers could find themselves stretching their budgets.