Who needs Netflix when you have the real life drama of buying a house in 2021? Talk with any buyer, seller, or real estate agent and you will hear first hand accounts of bidding wars, nail biting negotiations and the excruciating wait that comes after an offer is submitted. It sounds like a made for TV movie, but it’s the reality facing thousands of people in Central Ohio and across the country right now.
The typical situation goes something like this: listing hits the market Thursday, showings take place through the weekend, offers are due Sunday night, and the winner is notified sometime Monday. With 50 plus showings in a four day window, sellers might as well take the chance to get away for the weekend. It’s common that every available window for showings will be spoken for, leaving no time for the owner to spend any time at home.
Buyers, on the other hand, are left scrambling to find any open 30-minute time slot for viewing and to decide if it’s worthy of the biggest investment of their life. No pressure!
Low interest rates, being cooped up in a house or an apartment that suddenly seems insufficient, and a growing population are driving demand. And with the surge of buyers, there simply isn’t enough supply to go around. As of this article, there were 721 homes for sale (an additional 1,824 were under contract for purchase) in Franklin County according to data obtained from the Columbus and Central Ohio Regional MLS. As a matter of perspective, there were 1,498 properties actively for sale at the same time last year and 1,631 in March of 2018. That’s a 52 and 56 percent decrease respectively from the last two years.
As a result, Central Ohio home prices have reached record levels. The January 2021 (the most recent period for which Columbus Realtors data was available) median price in all of Central Ohio is $225,000, a 14.2 percent increase from the same time last year. Buyers can expect to pay more in the months to come if inventory trends continue.
There are two morals, and dare I say silver linings to this story. First, it is the best time in history to be a seller. Second, it’s still not all bad for buyers. Interest rates remain near historic lows, lessening the sting from higher prices. The scales are also not likely to tip anytime soon, leaving room for appreciation to continue. If you stay persistent long enough to be on the winning end, you stand to benefit from the strength of the Central Ohio housing market and the current low cost of borrowing money.