WARREN - The new Warren Area Board of Realtors president is convinced the 8 percent increase in local home sales last year is not a historic anomaly.
Rather, Realtor James Pirko said the increase to 1,784 home sales in 2013 from the 1,660 homes sold in Trumbull County a year earlier is part of an upward trend. Archives show 1,554 Trumbull County homes sold in 2011.
Year-end sales figures for neighboring Mahoning County also increased by 8 percent to 2,376 from 2,192 in 2012. The figures were released Tuesday by the Youngstown / Columbiana Association of Realtors.
"The market is definitely improving, considering what we are digging ourselves out of," Pirko said. He was referring to the nationwide lending crisis that began in 2007. "The statistics show that 2013 was an improvement over 2012, and 2012 was a marked improvement over the prior few years as well. Instead of a one-time anomaly, it's a trend."
Pirko, an agent with Howard Hanna in Howland specializing in commercial, industrial and investment properties, took over this month as 2014 president for the Warren Area Board of Realtors, replacing Marlin Palich of Northwood Realty, whose term expired in December.
Pirko also serves as secretary of the Mahoning Valley Real Estate Investors Association and is a representative of the Ohio Real Estate Investors Board. He also serves as president of YNG Air Partners, a non-profit support group for the Youngstown-Warren Regional Airport, and as a district leader for T. Boone Pickens Energy Independence campaign.
Monthly homes sales also increased dramatically in December for both Trumbull and Mahoning counties compared to December sales in 2012. Sales closed on 150 homes in Trumbull County, up 27 percent over the 118 homes that sold in December 2012. In Mahoning County, sales weren't as brisk, still a slight increase of about a half-percent to 175 from 174 was reported, the statistics show.
Pirko attributed the increase in sales to an improving economy, more capital being generated by the oil and gas industry drilling and improved buying power. In addition, he noted, lending rates remain low.
"A lot of people who were not eligible to buy a house in the past are now finding themselves eligible. People's paychecks are showing improvement, they get their bills in line and their credit improves and that increases their buying power," Pirko said.
"Something else that is having an impact on our housing market is the oil and gas industry with the cash flow that it is putting into our economy, the money that's circulating," he said.
Despite the increased sales, prices have remained flat. In Trumbull County, median sale prices in 2013 were $71,250, down slightly from $73,000 a year earlier. In Mahoning County, median sale prices last year were $76,000, up slightly from $75,000 in 2012.
Housing stock considered to be correctly priced and move-in-ready, remains a problem, Pirko noted.
"Right now we are getting a shortage of good, move-in-ready, realistically priced homes," Pirko said. "This trend has been happening since 2012, and it accelerated in 2013. Right now a home that is move-in ready, you are getting an offer in 30 to 60 days."
Statistics show homes listed for sale in Trumbull County in 2013 remained on the market an average of 117 days . That is down 21 percent from a 148-day average in 2012.
In Mahoning County, listed homes also remained on the market an average of 117 days, about 13 percent better than the 134-day average in 2012 in that county.