Year of recovery

His year as president of the statewide Realtor association ranged from taking stands on statewide legislation, paying visits to each of nine districts in all corners of the state and simply being a voice on issues affecting Ohio Realtors, sellers and buyers.

But perhaps the most rewarding part of the 12 months Thomas J. Williams of Howland spent at the helm of the Ohio Association of Realtors was being a part of an industry that is in recovery.

“I don’t see this as being a flash-in-the-pan trend. We are definitely in a rebound, in a recovery,” Williams said as he sat in his Northwood Realty office in Howland last week. “We have had sales increases throughout the state for the last 27 months in a row.”

Williams, 62, just wrapped up a year as president of the group that represents some 26,000 Realtors across the state of Ohio. It was the first time a Warren-area real estate agent held the post typically held by Realtors from larger metropolitan areas of the state. Chris Hall of Toledo took over the seat in January. The last time a local realtor served as OAR president was more than a half-century ago when A.E. Reinman Jr. of Youngstown had held the post.

“It was just an extreme honor for me,” Williams said. “Hopefully it won’t be another 55 years ’til we have another local person.”

Williams, who has spent decades as a Realtor, homebuilder, appraiser and industry official, said while local recovery has been more gradual than in other parts of the country, the local market also didn’t see the large swing in housing values experienced in other parts of the country.

“We didn’t get this big appreciation and that then declined like they did in Florida, Arizona, Las Vegas,” Williams said.

Improved consumer confidence and jobless rates are leading to improved home sales, both locally and nationally. The number of home sales that closed in Trumbull County last year, for example, jumped 7 percent to 1,784 from 1,660 in 2012, according to statistics provided by the Warren Area Board of Realtors.

Mahoning County experienced an even larger jump of 8.4 percent to 2,376 to 2,192, according to statistics provided by the Youngstown-Columbiana Association of Realtors.

“The agents in this office are busy,” Williams said. “Some are seeing the best real estate sales that they have ever had. A lot of buyers out there are waiting.”

Hall, the 2014 OAR president, agreed.

“It’s evident, based on the slight increase in the number of home purchase contracts that occurred in December, that the Ohio housing market is becoming more balanced in its ongoing recovery,” Hall said.