Why is it so hard to buy a home in central Ohio?


It’s more difficult than ever to buy a home in central Ohio and there’s several factors behind this.

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Columbus is one of the nation’s top five hottest housing markets, according to Realtors.com.

Just when you thought record-high interest rates would cool things down, think again. Adding to the fierce competition are more investors coming in with cash offers.

After more than three months of searching high and low across the city for a home to call her own, Mariah Garnes closed on her first home in April.

“From the start of the year, I knew that I didn’t want to rent anymore. I was ready to be a homebuyer. I’m in my 30s now, it was just time. I also wanted to stop waiting for there to be a buyer’s market because that may never come,” she said.

Garnes went to dozens of showings. Multiple offers were denied.

“The market has definitely been challenging for buyers right now. The rates are high right now and you think that would keep people at bay from buying, but the reality is buying is happening in full force and the inventory is low,” said Stephanie Galloway, who is a realtor.

Inventory is at record lows in central Ohio. Combine that with demand being at an all-time high. This — despite interest rates— doubles what they were a year ago.

What does that say about Columbus, Franklin County and central Ohio as a whole? It means people want to live here.

However, there aren’t enough homes to go around.

“The low inventory in Columbus is definitely a big deal because it’s creating a lack of affordable housing, a lack of housing…period,” Galloway said.

Home buyers are up against cash offers and many of those are coming from investors. Galloway says cash is king in real estate.

Even Nick Eifel, who has flipped homes for the last three years in Columbus, said he’s now struggling to compete.

On top of the low inventory, Columbus is seeing a record number of home flips.

According to property data provider ATTOM Data Solutions, Franklin County saw more than 2,800 flips in 2022. That’s more than a 71% increase over the last five years and a more than 176% increase from 10 years ago.

Eifel says his latest renovation in the Northland neighborhood will cost about $70,000.

This project is part of his work at Rosie’s House, which helps seniors pack up, sell their homes and move into assisted living facilities.

Investors also rely on the Columbus-based real estate data company, DataFlik.

“We use artificial intelligence and machine learning to help predict the homeowners and homes that are most likely to sell in any given market,” said Brooks Humphreys, the founder of DataFlik.

Humphreys said he’s seen a significant increase in the number of investors utilizing his service. He also said when it comes to those investors, they play a critical role in the inventory crisis.

“When investors are flipping homes, what they’re doing is they’re creating inventory,” Humphreys said.

Whether you’re investing in a home to flip or rent or you’re looking to ditch the monthly rent for a mortgage, you’ll want to plan for the process to last longer than expected.

The state of the market will have an impact on every property owner.

Looking ahead to August, the Franklin County Auditor’s Office is going through the appraisal process and says the updated values will be historic.

Homes may see an increase in value by as much as 33%.

In other counties such as Knox County, property value could go up as much as 40%.

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