COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — A Columbus realtor is projecting a steady central Ohio housing market in 2023 after inflation and a series of increased mortgage rates in 2022.

Central Ohio home prices will remain in the same range as 2022 even as interest rates are anticipated to continue rising, according to Columbus Realtors President Patti Brown-Wright. Her forecast comes as the annual inflation rate in the U.S. fell to 6.5% last month and Columbus home prices decreased for five consecutive months.

“Even though rates have gone up a little bit, I don’t anticipate them to climb to a point where it puts buyers out of the market of being able to buy or sell their homes,” Brown-Wright said. “It’s still a great time to buy. Interest rates were 18% at one time when I was buying, they’re still really, really low and I wouldn’t discourage anyone from buying.”

This year, Columbus is anticipated to be the 14th-healthiest housing market in the nation, according to Realtor.com’s Top-100 Housing Forecast for 2023. For Ohio, the report ranked Toledo in the 10th spot, Cincinnati 19th, Dayton 23rd, Cleveland 32nd and Akron 60th. Hartford, Connecticut, is first, followed by El Paso, Texas; Louisville, Kentucky; Worcester, Massachusetts; and Buffalo, New York.

The listing site also consecutively ranked Columbus as one of the hottest housing markets in the U.S. last year. Brown-Wright said Columbus has received national attention due to its affordable housing at the median income level compared year-over-year.

Still, Realtor.com’s forecast is predicting the number of home sales to decline nationwide to the lowest level since 2012 at 14.1%. Columbus Realtors reported 2,202 closed home sales in November, a 27% drop compared to a record-breaking 3,018 homes sold in November in 2021. Brown-Wright is predicting a decrease in housing inventory to continue.

“That’s not always a bad thing, because we went from two days on the market to now we’re at an average of 24,” Brown-Wright said. “The market always corrects itself, just like the stock market.”

Brown-Wright encourages buyers and sellers entering the market this year to do their “homework in advance” to understand their financing and the areas they can afford. She said knowing what and where buyers can afford to shop for a house is crucial.

“Nothing is more upsetting to buyers is if they want to be in an area they can’t afford,” Brown-Wright said. “Do your research, be in front of it. Buy what you can afford, don’t overspend.”