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Published: Thursday, 2/14/2013

2.7 percent in Toledo are high earners

Census ranks metro area 153rd out of 366 U.S. regions

BY KRIS TURNER
BLADE BUSINESS WRITER

About 2.7 percent of households in the Toledo area are high-income households, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

The report focused on households earning at least $191,469 per year, as that would put them in the top 5 percent of all U.S. households, using 2011 dollars.

Of the metropolitan areas the bureau studied, Toledo ranked 153rd out of 366 regions in the density of high-income households.

Fourteen counties in Ohio had at least 3.25 percent of their households in the high-income range, but none were in northwest Ohio. All were in the Cleveland, Columbus, Dayton, and Cincinnati areas.

San Jose, Calif., had the nation’s highest percentage of high-income residents at 15.9 percent.

“I’m totally agnostic about the relevance of this statistic for whether a place is good or not good,” said Census Bureau economist Charles Adam Bee. “There’s upsides and downsides. Maybe if you’re trying to sell luxury cars, then this would be something you might value.”

He did note, however, that people with high incomes have a lot more choice in where they can live, and in addition to an economic basis for their decisions, they might opt to live in places with the best natural or cultural amenities. Among the 366 metropolitan areas in the United States, those with the fewest high-income households are, coincidentally, Danville, Ill., and Danville, Va., each with just 1.1 percent of top earners among their population. Steubenville, Ohio, is close behind, at 1.3 percent.

The Toledo-area people who fall into the upper income category seem to be spending their money more freely than they did a few years ago.

The number of northwest Ohio homes sold for $300,000 or more rose 10 percent from 2011 to 2012, according to the Toledo Board of Realtors.

People who have the money for luxury homes are more comfortable buying in today’s market than a few years ago, Board President Brad Crown said.

Sales in all categories are going up because consumers are more confident in the economy.

“Even if people could afford them, they were kind of playing the ‘wait and see’ type of thing to see what was going to happen,” Mr. Crown said. “Even if somebody could afford to do something, their tendency was to play it safe.

“That mentality has changed a little bit. We do have a lot of physicians and entrepreneurs who have the wherewithal to buy high-end properties. Maybe last year they felt a little bit better about doing it.”

Last year was the best year that real estate agents had experieneced in five years, Mr. Crown said.

“I had a home on the river in Perrysburg that closed in June for $1.2 million and several properties that have been three quarters of a million that have closed in northwest Ohio,” he said.

Luxury vehicles are selling better too.

“For a while, it seemed like people were maintaining their vehicles more as opposed to purchasing new and pre-owned,” said D.J. Yark, general manager of Yark BMW in Toledo. “Now there is a lot of pent-up demand it seems. The banking also has kind of freed up.”

The Block News Alliance contributed to this report.

Contact Kris Turner at: kturner@theblade.com or 419-724-6103.



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