Olentangy Valley News

Delaware real-estate market

City, county leaders optimistic as numbers rise

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Those searching for evidence of a recovering real-estate market need look no further than the city of Powell's building department.

At an October City Council Meeting, City Manager Steve Lutz reported building-permit numbers are the highest they've been since 2007 -- before the recession changed the global economic outlook.

In 2007, the growing city took in $978,090 in fees from permits to build 94 single-family homes. That number dropped steeply in 2008 to 41 building permits and stayed on a steady decline until 2011, when permits increased to 45. As of September, 62 building permits for single-family homes have been filed to bring in $491,498 in fees.

"We survived a little better than some other areas in Ohio, but we're now finally starting to see where those numbers are increasing and indicating that the economy in the area is starting to pick back up," said Powell spokeswoman Megan Canavan.

Not only do permit numbers show a healthier real-estate market, but so does the rate at which developers are looking to build in Powell. In June, council approved the Courtyards of Sawmill, a 23-condominium subdivision that is expected to be built along the east side of Sawmill Road in 2014.

Last month, council approved its first single-family home subdivision since 2005. The Reserve will bring 119 homes to 69 acres on the south side of Home Road.

A downtown apartment complex development plan also is moving through the zoning process.

"Residential construction continues to support our position as the fastest-growing county in the state," said Delaware County Auditor George Kaitsa.

Kaitsa said he hasn't been surprised by the increase in county building permits that has occurred since 2011.

Because interest rates are on the rise, he said some buyers are rushing to make purchases, which benefits the market.

Conveyance fees -- the $3 fee for every $1,000 in home value that is charged every time a property transfers -- also indicated to Kaitsa how the market would fare in 2013.

This is the first year those county fees are expected to return to pre-recession numbers and are on track to add $4.5 million this year to the county's general fund, Kaitsa said.

"That's going to put us on track to where we were in 2007 and I think that's really a significant measure in terms of how the real-estate market has rebounded," he said.

At the height of the recession in 2009, Delaware County reached its low, with just $2.5 million in conveyance fees collected. In 2005, fees reached an all-time high of $6.4 million.

Another important factor in determining the market's health is the number of foreclosures. Through August 2013, 395 foreclosures have been reported. Kaitsa said that's significantly lower than recent years when foreclosure numbers reached 1,100.

It's because of the county's resilient market that the Builders Industry Association of Central Ohio has chosen to host three of its last four annual Parade of Homes tours in southern Delaware County, Kaitsa said. The sale of the high-end homes in those subdivisions -- including those at this year's parade site, Trails End subdivision in Liberty Township -- keep the county on track, he said.

"That additional real-estate value adds to the overall market value of the county," he said. "With people building more houses, that brings in more value, which then will help really everyone that has a levy -- particularly the school districts."

Kaitsa pointed out the county's real-estate values dropped just 5 percent during the last assessment, while other metropolitan counties across the state saw decreases of up to 20 percent.

In 2011, the average sale price of homes in Delaware County was $275,100. This year, the average sale price has risen to $292,300.

"The numbers really reflect the fact that people look to Delaware County as a good place to build a home and raise a family," Kaitsa said. "It's just a good place to live."

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