Trumbull home sales buck trend

WARREN – Despite a 5 percent dip in home sales statewide, Trumbull County homes continued to sell well in January, with reports on Tuesday showing a 9 percent increase over January 2013 sales.

Mahoning County did not fare as well, with the number of home sales closing in January down 17 percent over comparable figures for January 2013.

The statewide dip was the first downturn in sales activity the market has posted in 30 consecutive months of year-over-year gains, according to the Ohio Association of Realtors.

The statewide sales also dropped about 5 percent from the previous month, December 2013.

Chris Hall, president of the Ohio Association of Realtors, attributed the statewide decline to poor weather conditions.

“Certainly, the extreme weather conditions throughout the state during the month contributed to the downturn,” Hall said.

“Our January sales results are also reflective of a more balance, stable marketplace, one that will experience traditional ebbs and flows in activity levels throughout the year.”

Around the state, 14 of the 20 markets tracked reported declines in sales activity levels. The average sales price increased in 14 markets.

Trumbull County was bucking the trend with its increased January sales. Statistics provided by the Warren Area Board of Realtors shows buyers closed on 108 home sales in January, up from the 99 closings in January 2013.

Other positive signs included a slight increase in median sale price in Trumbull County from $68,500 to $69,000, and a slight decrease in the average number of days Trumbull County homes were on the market before selling.

Mahoning County figures provided by the Youngstown-Columbiana Association of Realtors showed a slight decrease in median selling price, to $70,950 from $72,000 a year ago.

Mahoning County homes sold in an average of 107 days, three days more quickly than the 110 days it took to sell homes on average in January 2013.

Statewide, January’s average home price of $127,327 reflects a 5.6 percent increase from the $120,533 mark posted during the month last year.

The Ohio median price increase also bucked the national trend.

National home sales figures released Tuesday showed slowing sales and dipping sales prices across the country.

It was the second straight month home sales dropped nationwide, indicating a weakening housing market after its healthy recovery in 2013.

“Gains are slowing … and the strongest part of the recovery in home values may be over,” said David Blitzer, chairman of the S&P’s index committee.

“Higher home prices and mortgage rates are taking a toll on affordability.”

Sales of existing homes plunged in January to the slowest pace in 18 months. And builders broke ground on 16 percent fewer homes in January compared with December, the Commerce Department said this week.

That was the second straight decline.

For all of 2013 prices rose by a healthy 13 percent, mostly because of big gains earlier in the year.

That was the largest gain in eight years.

Yet that increase may be putting some homes out of reach for many buyers.

The weather wasn’t all to blame for slowing sales nationwide, as even some cities in warmer areas saw declines. Home prices in Phoenix fell 0.3 percent, the first drop after 26 months of big increases.

Only six cities recorded higher prices in December: Dallas, Las Vegas, Miami, San Francisco, Tampa, Fla., and Washington, D.C. Home prices in all 20 cities analyzed rose compared with a year ago.

The Associated Press

contributed to this story.