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Home Demand Continues to Evolve

But supply still isn’t meeting the region’s housing real estate needs.

by Sarah M. Mullins

The housing market is constantly changing, causing a ripple effect throughout the region’s economy. The pandemic’s initial shock halted most business activity but quickly turned the real estate market upside down with unexpected interest in buying and selling. Fast forward to today, when interest rate hikes have started to deter buyers.

Anne Uchtman, director of agent development at Star One Realtors and 2023 president of the Realtor Alliance of Greater Cincinnati, says that despite the ebb and flow buyers are still buying and sellers are still selling. “COVID changed the way all of us work,” she says. “We thought the pandemic was going to completely stall our market, but we saw an incredible boom. Prices were through the roof, and you’d get up to 50 offers on a home.”

Now it’s all about supply. According to MLS data, the average home in the Cincinnati region is on the market nine days and there’s about a month’s supply of homes—which Uchtman describes as an unbalanced market. She says a five- to six-month supply is more balanced, with as many buyers as there are sellers and with buyers having more options and less pressure to submit offers quickly. The lower the supply, the higher the prices and more competitive the market is. “We have an inventory shortage,” she says. “Supply and demand comes into play here. We don’t have a lot of new listings, and depending on the house and the area and how in-demand it is, you might have to bid thousands of dollars over asking price.”

In addition to the general shortage, buyers are seeking amenities such as more bedrooms to accommodate a home office and leisure space to enjoy family time. Uchtman says people like the idea of bringing the vacation to the home with an outdoor space. A new trend that’s becoming common is wanting a pool or a large enough backyard to add one.

“Don’t let the rate stop you from purchasing,” says Uchtman. “Despite rates, people are always going to buy.” Lenders are getting creative, and buying down interest rates is an option. Refinancing once rates drop is a possibility. She says buyers should date the rate and marry the house—the main priority is finding the right house in a competitive market.

“I don’t have a crystal ball,” she says, “but my guess is it evens out a little more. During the housing market crash people took their houses off the market and buyers stopped looking. Things are slowing down, but people are still buying and selling. I had one of my best quarters in the fourth quarter [of 2022].”