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Overview of Ohio Housing Market

Ohio has one of the healthiest overall housing markets, with home values that have climbed steadily in recent years. The state’s property taxes are above the national average.

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Source: Freddie Mac Primary Mortgage Market Survey, SmartAsset Research
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Factors in Your Ohio Mortgage Payment

In addition to your monthly mortgage payment, you’ll have property taxes and insurance to deal with as associated homeowner costs. Ohio’s property tax rates are 12th-highest in the U.S. with an average effective property tax rate of 1.52%. Property taxes in the Buckeye State pay for county services such as parks, police departments and schools. You’ll find a different tax rate for each county in Ohio, depending on individual budgets and needs.

Property appraisals are conducted once every six years. Your appraisal will equal market value which is used to determine assessed value, which can vary county to county. If you want to maximize property tax savings, you can check if you qualify for any Ohio property tax exemptions.

As for insurance, the average Ohioan homeowner paid $868.28 for an annual homeowners insurance premium, according to the data we collected for our Most Affordable Places to Live study. That’s pretty affordable. Ohio ranked as the 10th-least expensive state for homeowners insurance. It helps that the state isn’t near a coastline or a wildfire-prone area. That said, Ohio suffered damage during Hurricane Ike in 2008 and Superstorm Sandy in 2012, according to the Insurance Information Institute. While homeowners policies usually cover hail and wind damage, flood damage generally is excluded. If you want flood insurance, you can find a policy through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).

Ohio participates in the FAIR plan, which provides basic insurance coverage for those denied coverage by at least two insurance companies. Full details can be found on the Ohio FAIR Plan Underwriting Association website.

Costs to Expect When Buying a Home in Ohio

One of the initial costs of homebuying is paying for a home inspection. After you make an offer on a house, you generally get a period of time to schedule a home inspector who will help you understand the condition of the property. Most home inspections include an overview of the roof, attic, basement, walls, appliances, plumbing, electrical and foundation. Your home inspector should give you a list of what they plan to assess prior to you contracting their services. The average cost for a home inspection is $300 to $500 and depends on the home’s square footage. If you want additional tests, such as mold, radon, termites or water quality, you’ll have to pay additional fees.

That’s just the beginning of what you’ll pay during home buying. The next expense to consider is closing costs. This umbrella term covers a number of fees you’ll pay as part of the loan closing. Ohio’s average closing costs range between 1.5% and 3% of the home value.

Average Closing Costs by County

CountyAvg. Closing CostsMedian Home ValueClosing Costs as % of Home Value
Van Wert$2,725$95,8002.84%

Our Closing Costs Study assumed a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage with a 20% down payment on each county’s median home value. We considered all applicable closing costs, including the mortgage tax, transfer tax and both fixed and variable fees. Once we calculated the typical closing costs in each county we divided that figure by the county’s median home value to find the closing costs as a percentage of home value figure. Sources: US Census Bureau 2015 5-Year American Community Survey, Bankrate and government websites.

Within that umbrella are origination fees, which is the portion of money that goes to your lender for its mortgage services. This includes tax service, origin points, loan processing, underwriting, commitment and document preparation. Not all of these services and fees will apply to every mortgage, it depends on the lender and your loan.

Another cost your lender will pass on to you is title insurance. The Ohio Department of Insurance writes that the lender’s loan policy won’t cover your interest in the title. However, you can buy a separate owner’s policy to protect against financial loss due to covered claims against your title. This includes payment of your legal costs if the title insurance company has to defend your title against covered claims.

Additional closing costs cover third-party fees such as flood certification, survey, appraisal, credit reports and more. This will depend on what services you use during the home-buying and closing process.

One last fee, which is the seller’s responsibility according to Ohio law, is a real property conveyance fee of $1.00/$1,000 or 10% of the price. This fee goes to the state, and counties have the option to levy an additional $0.30. The county also collects parcel fees for land and lot transfers, which is often the buyer’s responsibility.

Details of Ohio Housing Market

Ohio, home of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, is the seventh-most populous state in the U.S. with 11.61 million residents. The state spans 40,860 land miles making it the 34th-largest state. Bordered by Lake Erie and Michigan to the north, Pennsylvania to the east, Kentucky and West Virginia to the south and Indiana to the west, Ohio is a solidly Midwestern state.

Unlike a number of other states, Ohio’s capital, Columbus, is also its most populous city. After Columbus, the next largest cities are Cleveland, Cincinnati, Toledo and Akron, according to 2010 U.S. Census Bureau estimates.

If you plan on calling Ohio home, housing prices won’t be a detractor. Out of Ohio’s 88 counties, not one exceeds the FHA conforming loan limit (which in 2017 was $424,100). This means the cost of housing is relatively affordable, especially compared to prices on the coasts.

Overall, we ranked Ohio no. 8 in the U.S. for Healthiest Housing Market. This study considered indicators of stability, affordability, fluidity and risk of loss. The highest ranking places within Ohio include Northridge, Worthington, Westerville, Munroe Falls and Kent. Median home value across the state as of August 2017 was $129,300 and list price was $154,900, according to Zillow data. Over the past year, home values rose 6.1%.

Drilling down to the city level, Columbus’ median list price was $160,000 and home value was $130,400. Columbus is a hot market at the moment, with home values increasing 8.2% over the past year. Over on the shores of Lake Erie, Cleveland’s prices are much lower. The median home value was $59,400 and list price was $72,316. Cincinnati prices are higher: median home value was $125,400 and list price was $175,000. (All figures are as of August 2017.)

Local Economic Factors in Ohio

The Buckeye State’s known for its leading export commodities: motor vehicles and machinery. General Electric, General Motors, Ford and Whirlpool all have a major presence in this Midwestern state, according to a 2017 report by Ohio’s Department of Development. The manufacturing sector leads the nation in production of plastics, rubber, fabricated metals and more. In 2016, Ohio had the seventh-largest state economy in the U.S. with a gross domestic product of $625.7 billion.

As of 2015, Ohio’s top employers are Walmart, Cleveland Clinic, Kroger, Mercy Health and Ohio State University, according to the Ohio Department of Development. Twenty-five Fortune 500 companies have headquarters in Ohio including Cardinal Health, Procter & Gamble, Nationwide, Progressive and Macy’s.

Ohio’s unemployment rate for most of 2017 has hovered around 5%, and in August was 5.4% compared to the national rate of 4.4%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Income didn’t fare well either, according to data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis. In 2016 Ohio’s per capita personal income of $44,593 was just below the national average, $49,246.

Income is taxed in Ohio based on brackets. The higher your income the more income tax you’ll pay. For example, if you earn between $42,100 and $84,200, any income in excess of $42,100 is taxed at 3.465%. If your income is $21,100 to $42,100, you’re taxed 2.969% for excess over $21,100. On top of state income tax, Ohio municipalities and school districts collect income taxes. Rates can be as high as 3% in certain areas. Sales tax is similar. The state charges a percentage and counties charge an additional percentage, as well.

Planning a move to the Buckeye State? You can always check your cost of living to see how your budget might change. For example, if you live in San Diego, California and make $75,000 a year, a move to Columbus would equal a 16% lower average cost of living, mainly due to cheaper housing and food costs. Moving from Chicago, Illinois to Columbus is an average of 8% lower, largely due to housing costs. Thinking about Cleveland? A move from Austin, Texas to the Lake Erie-fronting city would lower your cost of living by an average of 4%.

Mortgage Legal Issues in Ohio

Ohio is one of the states that mandates property disclosures for most real estate transactions. The Ohio residential property disclosure form includes questions about flood plains, drainage, erosion, boundary disputes and more. If sellers have knowledge of anything asked on the form, they are required to disclose it. While the document can help you – as a prospective homebuyer – get an idea of the current condition, it’s not a substitute for a home inspection.

In the last five years, Ohio has passed a number of laws to help protect homeowners and mitigate foreclosure risk. Ohio only allows lender to foreclose through the judicial system. This means lenders must go through the court and file a complaint to start the process. Judicial foreclosures generally take much longer than non-judicial foreclosure, which can be beneficial for homeowners who need more time to pay back what they owe.

Ohio’s foreclosure timeline starts when you miss a payment. Forty-five days to 60 days after the missed payment, your lender will send you a demand or breach letter. Once you’ve missed three monthly payments, your lender can file a foreclosure complaint at the county court of common pleas. You’ll receive a copy of the complaint and a court summons. This is when you should consult an attorney as well as answer the summons. You have the option to request mediation, which can mean working out a repayment plan with your mortgage lender. If you don’t request this option or you’re not granted additional time to work on a resolution, after 150 days your lender can file a motion for summary judgment. If granted, your mortgage lender can schedule an auction of your home through the sheriff’s office.

If you need help, the Ohio Housing Finance Agency’s foreclosure prevention effort is called Save the Dream Ohio. The organization helps connect financially distressed homeowners with housing counseling agencies to help families avoid foreclosure. Ohio’s non-profit legal services community offers additional help at AvoidForeclosureOhio.org where homeowners can find information and resources.

Ohio Mortgage Resources

Available Resources

ResourceProblem or IssueWho QualifiesWebsite
Ohio Housing Finance AgencyDown payment assistance and mortgage tax credit.First-time homebuyers who meet income, credit and other requirements.http://myohiohome.org/
USDA Rural Development - Single family loansOffers payment assistance to increase an applicant’s repayment ability.Applicants must be without decent, safe and sanitary housing; Be unable to obtain a loan from other resources on terms and conditions that can reasonably be expected to meet; Agree to occupy the property as your primary residence; Have the legal capacity to incur a loan obligation; Meet citizenship or eligible noncitizen requirements; Not be suspended or debarred from participation in federal programs.http://www.rd.usda.gov/programs-services/all-programs/single-family-housing-programs
Home Affordable Refinance ProgramRefinancing.Single family homes and condos that fit within lending loan limits.http://www.harp.gov/

The Ohio Housing Finance Agency (OHFA) offers a number of homebuyer incentives including down payment assistance and information regarding mortgage tax credits. You can find free homebuyer education and the OHFA First-Time Homebuyer program that helps you find a mortgage for your first home.

Another option is the USDA for a government-backed loan for a home in an eligible rural area. Find if you meet the income requirements and proper location by navigating to the USDA’s Ohio website.

In the midst of a move to the Buckeye State? Get a head start on your budget by seeing what your paycheck will look like in Ohio and taking a look at current Ohio mortgage rates.