Saturday, December 7th, 2013
By Doug Drexler
Local home sales rebound
  Home sales and house values are increasing in Mercer County, data shows.
County auditor Randall Grapner said he has seen a growing economic confidence reflected in sales of existing single-family homes.
  "We know the economy went off in 2008, and 2009 was soft. November (2008) is when everything went in the tank," Grapner said, mentioning the national economic crisis and the bank bailout under president George W. Bush.
According to Grapner, in Mercer County 329 existing single-family homes were sold in 2008, 233 were sold in 2010 and 224 changed hands in 2011. Last year that number rose to 322.
As of Dec. 6, 358 existing single-family homes have been sold at a total sale price of about $45 million, up from $39 million last year and a recent low of $25 million in 2010.   
"It is an indication of our economic condition," Grapner said. "We're not shattering records, but the records are breaking. We are exceeding the previous year."
While the economy was spiraling downward in 2008 and 2009, Mercer County's real estate market also was battered by damaging news about the poor water quality in Grand Lake, said Jennifer Zeller, executive officer of the Midwestern Ohio Association of Realtors. People have now basically adjusted to the news about the lake and factored it into their decision-making, she said, and agents are seeing increasing business driven by the combination of low interest loans and low unemployment rates.
"I'm definitely hearing the members saying they're seeing more business," Zeller said. "The overall response from everyone is that the market in Mercer County is stable, solid and has rebounded. Inventory is low. That means the homes that are available are being snapped up."
Local real estate agents say there is particular demand for homes in the $80,000 to $120,000 range, which generally sell to first-time buyers, she said. They also reported an increase in new-home construction, which indicates people are upgrading. Zeller said the southern part of the county has the most movement.
"2013 was a good year for real estate and the feeling was that 2014 would be a good year also," Zeller said. "The overall consensus was one of optimism."
Home values are also rising. The county updates property values every three years. The 2011 revaluation saw property values grow only 0.16 percent – virtually nothing – over three years, Grapner said. He expects the values to increase in the 1 to 3 percent range when the properties are revalued again in 2014.
Grapner said Mercer County avoided some of the worst effects of the downturn.
"We didn't have nearly the foreclosure impact here," he said, adding the area's low unemployment rate of 4.3 percent has helped the recovery.
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