LIMA — Pam Daley-Jennings answered the question before it was asked.
“No. Never. I’ve been doing this for 35 years, and I have never seen houses sell like they have been the last couple of years,” said the owner of First Lima Title Agency.
“We ask each other how many more houses are out there to sell. Then just today (Friday), I open the mail and there are three new orders,” she said.
A year ago, the local housing market had record sales during the summer months of June, July and August, which is typically the busiest time of year for home sales.
That record has already been broken.
There were 715 homes sold during the three summer months this year, 21 more than last summer, according to figures released by Ohio Realtors for the West Central Region — which includes Allen, Hardin and Van Wert counties.
The average price of a home sold this year in the Lima region during during those summer months was $166,709 — an increase of $17,389 over the same period a year ago.
In raw numbers, that’s $119.2 million of sales this summer.
Jennings pointed out there are several interesting things about those numbers.
“We’ve noticed more people are moving back to the area. Their jobs are such that they can work remotely, and they can buy way more of a house around Lima than other areas,” she said.
“There also have been quite a few cash offers. It appeals to sellers because it makes the process go quicker in regards to appraisals and such.
“And if you list your house for sale,” she warned, “you better have a place to go because homes are selling that fast.”
A hot housing market typically results in new homeowners looking to purchase furniture, appliances and floor coverings. The pandemic put a damper on that from Febuary to April 2020 as foot traffic into stores slowed. Since then, there has been an uptick.
Fred Harold, one of the owners of Star Carpet and Cleaning, which has been doing business in Lima since since 1904, has noticed a change in buying habits.
“People used to just wanted to do one or two rooms. Now, they’re doing the entire house,” he said.
The hot items have been area rugs and luxury vinyl tile or laminate, which is now waterproof.
“Being a longtime business, we haven’t had much of a problem getting in product,” Harold added.
The boon in the housing market has been fueled by mortgage rates in the neighborhood of 2.5%, said Ohio REALTORS president Seth Task.
“Consumers appreciate that housing is a solid, long-term investment,” said Task. “Historically low mortgage rates are continuing to move our market forward.”
The Federal Reserve announced Wednesday it is keeping interest rates steady for the foreseeable future. But Fed watchers are questioning how much longer that can go on without stoking inflation.
Jennings points out a slight increase in interest rates would have a bit of an effect on home sales, but it’s not like the days when you called a bank to shop for the cheapest interest rate.
Now, the banks start with the questions.
“The first thing a bank wants to know is your credit score,” she said. “As good as the home deals are, if you want to buy a house, you need to make sure your financial house is in order.”