Housing industry showing uptick in Clermont County

By Kristin Bednarski
Sun staff

Great things are starting to happen in neighborhoods throughout Clermont County.

Trucks loaded with lumber and concrete are driving in, construction crews are becoming regular sights, and houses are being erected piece by piece.

Builders, developers and zoning officials throughout the county agree, there has been positive activity in the housing market, especially in the past year.

“We are really seeing traffic in our doors,” Dan Tartabini, vice president of sales at M/I Homes, said. “And an increased confidence in the traffic.”

Tartabini said his company is seeing an improvement in sales throughout the developments they have in Clermont County including areas of Wetherby Farms, Ivy Trails, Liberty Crossing and more.

He said buyers seem like they are more prepared to make a decision, they aren’t as worried about losing their job and they know it is a good time to buy a home.

“The time for buyers to buy is now,” Tartabini said. “We are feeling that for probably the first time in a while, buyers are getting that message and beginning to make a move.”

Tartabini said he believes another thing fueling activity is the fact that interested home buyers who had to sell their home first have been able to do so.

Tartabini said their sales have continued to improve, and the last month has been the best month they have had in the past year.

Carolyn Rolfes, president of Potterhill Homes, said she feels the worst part is over for the housing industry.

“I think the bleeding has stopped,” Rolfes said. “Next year we anticipate a slight increase in the market.”

Rolfes said she believes that Potterhill Homes and other select builders were able to pull through the worst of the economic recession because they found a niche in the market.

“In the last year I would say you’re starting to see the builders who have made it through this are builders who have hunkered down and worked on their core values and strengths,” Rolfes said. “More niche building is going on.”

Rolfes said at Potterhill Homes they are focusing their efforts on energy efficiency.

“We’re confident we can guarantee the lowest energy bills,” Rolfes said.

Potterhill Homes featured their Zero Energy Home at Homearama, a home show that was held for the first time in Clermont County this year.

She said showcasing the home in Clermont County enabled thousands of residents to see their product, hear their story and get to ask questions.

“It helped us get our message out,” Rolfes said. “It created a buzz for us and probably others too.”

Hal Silverman, the developer of the Homearama subdivision, Willows Bend, and president of Hal Homes, said since the home show they have sold 15 homes in the development.

“A lot of people had been waiting on the sidelines and decided to move forward,” Silverman said.

Silverman said he believes a number of the sales are related to Homearama, and he said low interest rates buyers have been able to get has also helped.

“Those rates have helped people that were on the fence,” Silverman said.

Cory Wright, zoning administrator at Union Township, agreed that with lower interest rates and adjusted land prices and home values, now is the time to buy.

“I think that is driving it,” Wright said. “And I think the foreclosure inventory has burned off. I think all of those things have been having an impact positively.”

Wright said their building permits within the township have increased. He said last year hey had 94 permits total. He said this year they have already surpassed 90 permits.

Dan Dressman, executive director of the Home Builders’ Association of Greater Cincinnati, said the same has been true for the market across the Greater Cincinnati area.

“I think we’ve seen a steady improvement across the region,” Dressman said.

Dressman said people have been able to sell their homes and know that it is a good time to buy a new home.

Dressman likened the improvement in the industry to baseball.

“We’re not hitting it out of the ballpark at this point, but we are getting some singles,” Dressman said.

Dressman said he is hopeful things are just going to get better.

“I think over the last couple years we’ve started to see an improvement that has started to solidify,” he said. “It’s not hit or miss. We think it is here to stay.”