Ohio may be considered flyover country by those living in big, expensive cities on the coasts, but today’s home buyers have it squarely in their sights. The humble Midwestern state has the greatest share of the nation’s hottest real estate markets, according to a recent analysis of realtor.com® data.
Midwestern markets have been steadily taking over realtor.com’s monthly list of the 20 hottest markets in America, which ranks the metros where homes sell the fastest and visitors to realtor.com are clicking on the most listings. These are places where buyers need to act fast—and sellers are sitting pretty. And while the top-ranked metros illustrated the rise of smaller markets and the fall of larger, pricier ones, there were some notable exceptions.
This month, for the first time, Ohio was the state with the most metros on the list: Columbus (No. 2), Springfield (No. 9), Canton (No. 13), and Dayton (No. 14). In fact, Springfield wins the title of this list’s most-improved, leaping 93 spots since October 2018.
So what’s the secret of Ohio’s success? Affordability, says Javier Vivas, director of economic research at realtor.com.
“There are no affordable markets left when you look at the top 50 markets,” he says, noting that these metros have virtually no entry-level homes, under $300,00. In four of the five largest markets in Ohio, however, the average household buying a typical home would have a monthly mortgage payment under $800. The current low mortgage rates are also helping to keep this figure down, and motivating buyers.
Lee Ritchie, a Realtor® with Re/Max Metro in Columbus, notes that home-buying activity in October and early November this year is completely unlike the usual slowdown going into the winter holidays.
“This particular year, we have just as many in contract right now, in November, than we would have in March,” she says. “We in the industry think, ‘When is this going to slow down?’”
But it’s not hard to see why buyers are eager, she adds: “We have a great job market here, and we’ve got relatively affordable housing and lots of different kinds of housing.”
The city appeals to empty nesters and millennials, both of whom appreciate its energy and cultural activities. For millennials, Columbus’ affordability pays off twice—the costs of housing and starting a business are low, which has given rise to “a hotbed of startup companies,” as Ritchie says.
Charming historic districts like German Village, Victorian Village, and Italian Village each have their own style and flavor, and residents can enjoy amenities like parks and restaurants, while being adjacent to downtown.
The Short North arts district, she says, is “hot, hot, hot.” The housing stock is mostly single-family homes, even in the city center, with very few condos. For even more space, and top-notch schools, people head to the suburbs, to communities like Dublin, Powell, and New Albany.
Ritchie says she gets a lot of calls from buyers coming from the coasts, like California, New York, and Washington, DC—an observation bolstered by realtor.com data, which shows that the flurry of clicks on listings in Ohio metros in October was largely driven by home shoppers from more expensive Midwestern and Northeastern metros such as Detroit, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Chicago, and New York City.
“A lot of people are tired of the traffic, and tired of having a 500-square-foot home,” she says. “In Columbus, we can pretty much get anywhere in 30 minutes.”
The Midwest as a whole claimed nine markets out of the 20 on our hot list, compared with five in the West, three in the Northeast, and two in the South. And for the fourth month in a row, Fort Wayne, IN, sits at the top of the ranking. After all, its strong manufacturing sector, growing arts scene, and affordable housing make a killer combo.
Pueblo, CO, is another big winner; at No. 2, it’s come up 38 spots since a year ago. Perhaps it’s no coincidence that it sits just 40 miles south of sunny, outdoorsy, picturesque Colorado Springs (No. 5), and presumably shares some of those appealing attributes.
Meanwhile, larger urban markets are continuing to see their stock drop with home buyers. The largest 40 markets in the country have dropped an average 16 spots since this time last year.
But there are some bright spots. Among those top 40, some markets actually improved their position compared with the year before, most notably the Washington, DC, metro area, which rose 36 spots.
It’s probably the Amazon effect. Nov. 13 will mark the first anniversary of Amazon’s announcement that it had chosen Crystal City in Arlington, VA, for its secondary headquarters, known as HQ2. (Amazon changed its mind about co-winner Long Island City after local opposition.)
The company, which has promised to bring 25,000 jobs to the area, began hiring earlier this year. And since there wasn’t much residential housing inventory to begin with in Crystal City, which is mostly office parks, it’s no wonder that demand for housing would spill over into the rest of the DC metro. This demand has significantly depleted the inventory of active home listings, which has gone down 19.6% over the past year.
It’s a trend that’s likely to continue over the coming years, Vivas says.
“With the HQ2 move, the plan is to create jobs over a five-year period. So when it comes to job growth and opportunities, they’re not just happening all at once,” he says. “What that means is you have the market getting tight at any point over those five years.”
Check out the rest of the nation’s real estate hot spots, below.
The hot list
|Metro||Rank (October 2019)||Rank (October 2018)|
|Fort Wayne, IN||1||3|
|Colorado Springs, CO||5||6|
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