The March 2024 average home sales price in Ohio was $275,500 for 10,700 homes sold. The average price in Columbus is currently $243,838. If you got my market update from last month, you may be wondering at the roughly $125,000 price discrepancy where the average price in Columbus was $374,000 and that prices were going up. Now, it appears they’re going down. Was I wrong, or was the data wrong? The fact is, it depends on where you look and who you ask. It’s the same with interest rates.

 

The internet is rife with information, some of it is relevant and some is not. Let’s look at housing prices. The average price of $243,838 in Columbus is sourced from the Ohio Realtor’s website. However, if you look at this week’s Columbus Realtor’s newsletter, it says the median price for Central Ohio in March was $310,000. Redfin says Columbus prices averaged $267,500 in March, Rocket Homes says $278,846, Google indicates it’s $299,300 for Central Ohio, and then the info provided in our last market update stated $374,000. So, why are they all different?

Without going into the long story side of it, though I will if you ask me to, the key to these prices is in the description. Is the average for every home sold in Columbus or Central Ohio, and is it for the entire month of March or something more specific? In the case of our email, the data was specific to a certain home type in Columbus and its suburbs. And was based on the average sales price, not the list price. That’s why it’s so high. When a site says “Columbus” it typically means, the city and suburbs. The location, “Central Ohio” is more arbitrary. That description can include or exclude locations to either meet an expectation or the narrative the article is trying to tell.

It's similar with the interest rates. Depending on which website you look at or which lender you talk to, the interest rates can swing more or less by a quarter (.25) to several percentage points either way. The way I understand it is, and I’m not an expert on loans, the rate set by the Federal Reserve is an arbitrary suggestion they base on inflation and governmental prompting. The lending institutions can set their rates base on the Federal suggestion or not - kind of like an MSRP. The rate is adjusted periodically, with no set timeframe, and then lending institutions decide which rate best fits their needs, based loosely, of course, on the Federal suggestion. If a bank has too many home loans out this month, then they may set their mortgage rate on the high side. Likewise, if a credit union wants more loans, it can set its rate lower than suggested. Like the term, “Central Ohio,” the lenders mortgage rate is arbitrarily based on factors it controls.

So, what should we do to get the best information? If you want to know the median sales price for a location you want to buy in, skip the generalizations of, “Columbus,” or “Central Ohio,” and search the specific locations using a site like Zillow or Realtor.com. For mortgage rates, Nerd Wallet offers the ability to compare the rates of several national institutions. You can also compare the ‘Rent vs. Buy’ option to find out which is more equitable for your budget. If you prefer loan officers you can see, we have several lenders we’ve worked with in the past that can help you with a loan or even credit repair if its needed. If you want to sell a home, check out the Home Valution page on our website. And of course, since I’m biased on this, you can always reach out to me, I’ll be glad to help you anyway I can.