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Toledo-area home sales leap 17.6% in June

Numbers trending higher in nearly every part of Ohio

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The average sale price for a house in the Toledo area in June was $124,027, a 4.1 percent increase from the same time last year.

THE BLADE/ANDY MORRISON
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Home sales in metro Toledo were up 17.6 percent in June compared with the same month a year earlier. For the first six months of the year, they are up 13.9 percent over the same period last year.

The Toledo-area numbers are part of an upward trend observed in almost every market tracked by the Ohio Association of Realtors.

The average sales price in the Toledo area was $124,027 last month, 4.1 percent higher than last year. For the January-through-June period, the average sales price was $104,263, up 2.9 percent.

"The market as a whole has done extremely well considering where we were in the economic collapse of 2008," said Carl Horst, a spokesman for the state association. "We've hopefully brought the market back to a place where we can create a balance and be sustainable."

Statewide, sales increased 10.6 percent in June and the average price of $150,174 was $8,381 more than the year before. Mr. Horst was cautiously optimistic the market would continue to improve.

Nationally, home sales were up 4.5 percent from a year ago. But the annual sales pace of 4.37 million homes is below the 6 million that economists consider healthy.

Claire Browning, a Realtor with Welles Bowen in Toledo, said sales were great for the first six months of this year but she was worried the market might have peaked.

"It has kind of slowed down a bit at this point," she said. "We had a good first half of this year. The difference between this year and last year is we have buyers."

Seventeen of the state's 20 markets, including Toledo, increased sales in the first half of the year. The exceptions were Ashland, Lancaster, and Mansfield.

"It's not just a market here and a market there -- in all corners of Ohio, we're seeing the market show some strength," Mr. Horst said.

The influx of buyers, well-priced homes, and record-low mortgage rates have all contributed to the increase in sales, Ms. Browning said.

According to Freddie Mac, 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages averaged 3.53 percent this week. That's down from 4.52 percent at the same time in 2011. The rate for a 15-year, fixed-rate mortgage was 2.83 percent, down from 3.66 percent at the same time last year.

Those low rates are attractive to buyers, said Rick Turner, a Realtor at Key Realty in Toledo. Although it's still difficult for many people to get a loan -- banks and lenders often request a heap of paperwork before approving a borrower -- people are willing to go through the process.

"Rates are great, but you've got to have your ducks in line as far as your financing and everything," he said. "As it stands right now, because there are so many bad loans out there, lenders are making it more difficult."

The market is still tough for sellers, Ms. Browning said. People have to be flexible and realize their homes won't be worth as much as before the housing bubble burst. "In this market, any offer is a good offer," she said. "It means at least you can counter and try to get something together. I never apologize for an offer any more."

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

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