Dayton Realtors: ‘I’ve never seen a market like this’

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House for Sale

The Dayton housing market has been on fire this year, with values skyrocketing and a lack of homes for the amount of buyers.

DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – For three months this year – May through July – Dayton’s housing market was the hottest its ever been.

A regular occurrence: houses were on the market for 12 hours but had multiple bids. It’s what Jan Leverett, president of Dayton Realtors, called a frenzy.

Leverett has worked in 14 cities, and she’s never seen a market boiling like Dayton is now.

“Values have gone up 20 percent in the last six months,” Leverett said. “We didn’t have enough inventory to last two weeks. We had 1600 listings and sold 1400 houses, leaving us 200 to carry us the other week.’

Is this a housing bubble?

Leverett, who was in Washington D.C. recently for a realtors association gathering, said the stories she heard pointed to a strong national market.

But according to the Wall Street Journal, no place is as hot as the Midwest. Columbus and Indianapolis are attracting thousands of new residents, but Dayton has also been a shining star in the economy.

Dayton’s market took a catastrophic hit in the late 2000s and early 2010s thanks to the Great Recession, and the loss of major employers like GM, Delphi and NCR.

Leverett said the current uptrend isn’t a market bubble, but more of a correction after prices dropped following the Great Recession.

“We are now seeing the true value of houses here,” Leverett said. “From 2005 to 2009, housing prices went down 13 percent. Now we are up 7 percent from 2009, so we are leveling out. We could see prices increasing gradually, and with low inventory, we had a frenzy where people were paying more.”

Lessening bubble worries, banks are more accountable than the mid-2000s, when lending was a free-for-all.

“I heard a woman complaining because they had to fill out so much documentation,” Leverett said. “Banks are making us accountable, and that’s what we need. That’s how we got into trouble in 2005-07. Mortgage people are more responsible and safer, better loans are being made.”

Who is buying homes in Dayton?

Dayton’s home buyers are a mix of people moving in to work for new industries, as well as what Leverett termed the three bedrocks of the local economy – feds, eds, and meds. Local universities, the medical industry and Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.

She also credited smaller companies that aren’t goliaths like GM, but are filling holes and providing diversity to Dayton’s slate of available jobs.

“A lot of people move here because of the affordability and cost of living,” Leverett said. “Dayton has a lot to offer. The education opportunities are fabulous, there’s the medical field and culturally Dayton has much more to offer than Cincinnati and Columbus.”

She said young families are also fueling the market, as well as the local colleges.

“We have a lot of parents who see investing in a house as a better deal than paying for an apartment for a college student,” Leverett said. “For students its paying $300-400 a month instead of $900, which is what you would pay for a normal 2-bedroom. You can invest in the home and sell it.”

Sinclair Community College, University of Dayton and Wright State University have broadened their curriculum, offering degrees in advanced fields. Sinclair has programs dedicated to robotics and drones, many of them in part with Wright-Patt.

But mentality has played a major role.

“(Dayton) is truly Midwest in how conservative people are,” Leverett said. “You have people here who experienced the recession more than anyone else and they are much more credit conscious.”

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