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New Homes Getting Larger In Central Ohio

This week builders will showcase the latest in home design. The Parade of Homes 2015 opens Saturday in southern Delaware County.

Figures show new home construction in Central Ohio still lags what we saw during the housing boom 10 years ago. The inventory of homes for sale is tight; prices are up.

The market seems to be driving the popularity of luxury homes - And The so-called McMansions are coming back.

“This home specifically is designed to be more Victorian- like you'd find down in Victorian Village. So you'll see a little more of the ornate detail in the cabinetry and things like that," said Justin Shear.

Justin Shear shows off the house he's selling for Coppertree Homes. The Plain City house - at 6,600 square feet is the largest model ever built by the company. 

The home features five bedrooms, a first floor pub room complete with a wet bar, and fireplace.

The price - $1.3 million.

Coppertree builds only custom homes which tend to be larger than the average home built. Shear says the days of flipping homes appear over and buyers are looking to stay.

“Decisions are being made for genuinely you're looking at 15 to 25 year homes. It's not the days of I'm going to build this, potentially sell it, profit, turn it over and build another one. I haven't heard that for years,” said Shear.

When the economy declined and the housing market crashed, Coppertree Homes saw a huge drop in business. In 2010, the company sold only five homes. This year it's on pace to sell 25.

“As the market came back and this company came back we definitely saw a trend of smaller homes. And then again as they got comfortable, as the interest rates stayed low then and people started seeing that they can buy a lot for a long period of time, that's when the big houses came back," said Shear.

Fernando Arbona decided to purchase his large new home in Plain City earlier this year. His family's last one in the Hilliard schools area lost value as the market crashed and builders abandoned construction of expensive homes in his neighborhood.

“We ended up putting quite a bit of money into the house as well after we moved into it and when we sold the house we really weren't able to recoup very much of what we had invested in the house," said Arbona.

Arbona estimates he lost about 75 percent of the money he spent making improvements. This time he will wait before finishing the basement. He and his wife and three children live on the other two floors which make up about 5,000 square feet.

“I think we're in a little bit safer of a market area right now than compared to our previous house. We're in a much better school district right now, so that will help maintain the prices up," said Arbona.

Director of Marketing and Sales for Rockford Homes, Brian Pohl says the challenges today include finding enough land to build new homes.  Pohl says buyers want a larger home that can adjust for multi-generational families.

“I believe what's happening right now is people have waited things out a little bit and waited for what they want to have and they'll spend a little more money. So what we would consider a first-time home buyer from 2005 and 2006 looks way different than what it is in 2015, 2016," said Pohl.

Pohl says many buyers are in their mid to late 30s. They know what upgrades they want like granite countertops and crown molding. The Parade of Homes inspires their wish list. Rockford built a home for this year's tour that includes four bedrooms, a two-story great room with a first floor master suite. It's priced at $588,000. That's about $200,000 higher than the average price for a new Rockford home.

The Columbus real estate market remains tight. There's not a lot of inventory, prices have climbed.

Today the average new home in Central Ohio is $318,000 - up from $270,000 three years ago.

Executive director of the Central Ohio Building Industry Association, Jim Hilz says the tight market has prompted builders to build bigger, more profitable homes. But he says he's not worried about another housing bust like the one eight years ago.

“We'll never get back to where we were 10 years ago and that's a good thing. Where it is now is better than it was five or six years ago," said Hilz.

Hilz adds builders may also have to consider subdivisions with smaller homes so modest income buyers can realize their dreams of home ownership.

Debbie Holmes has worked at WOSU News since 2009. She has hosted All Things Considered, since May 2021. Prior to that she was the host of Morning Edition and a reporter.