Ohio ranked 44th in the nation in housing growth, with nearly three-quarters of its counties, including Summit and Stark, losing homes between July 2011 and July 2012, according to a census analysis.
The state’s housing stock — houses, apartments and mobile homes — grew only 0.01 percent, or by a meager 645 homes, over that time period, the U.S. Census Bureau reported.
Only West Virginia, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Illinois, Rhode Island and Michigan fared worse.
The growth nationwide, including the District of Columbia, was 0.3 percent.
“Why in the last few years haven’t we had great housing starts?” asked Carmine Torio, executive vice president of the Home Builders Association Serving Summit & Portage Counties. “The same as the rest of the country. Foreclosures. People scared about the future.”
But he and at least one builder noted that the census data is old and that the housing industry has been rebounding in the Akron area for at least the last year.
“The feeling is 180 degrees from where it was,” said Mike Leckie-Ewing, vice president of organizational development with Wayne Homes in Green.
His company had 115 percent growth in Summit and Stark counties last year, and is looking at perhaps 30 percent growth this year, he said.
“Things are looking great for our area,” Leckie-Ewing said, adding that there’s plenty of pent-up demand after the Great Recession.
The shale gas and oil boom also has helped by bringing jobs to the region, he said.
As for the census report, not a single Ohio county was among the top 100 nationwide.
Summit and Stark were among 65 Ohio counties that saw its housing stock decline.
One county, Morgan, had the same number of housing units.
Summit’s housing stock fell 76 homes to 244,976, a 0.03 percent decline. Stark’s declined by 171 to 165,044, a 0.1 percent drop, the census reported.
“As far as new construction, it did come to a screeching halt,” said Jerry Feeman, a real estate appraiser, County Council president and member of the Summit County Land Reutilization Corp., a government-run land bank.
He said there are few available lots to build in the county.
Summit might continue to see its numbers fall. The county has distributed $7 million to cities, villages and townships to demolish blighted and abandoned homes.
The county estimated last year that communities would be able to raze between 928 and 1,392 homes with the money, but Feeman said it probably will be 650 to 800 because of demolition costs.
Other area counties
Meanwhile, Portage County ranked third statewide for growth, with a 0.61 percent increase representing 409 new homes. Medina was sixth, with 245 new homes and 0.35 percent growth.
Wayne added a single home, the census says.
In terms of raw numbers, Franklin led the state with 2,191 new homes. Warren and Delaware were a distant second and third with 723 and 608, respectively. Portage was fourth.
While it’s good news that home building is coming back in the Akron area, it’s not returning to the extent it was before the recession, Torio said.
“The [builders] that are left, almost all of them are a very busy, starting last year but particularly increasing this spring,” he said.
Rick Armon can be reached at 330-996-3569 or firstname.lastname@example.org.