More homes are selling and more new homes are being built than in past years in a housing market that continues to improve, experts said.

With buyers returning to the market after the recession, sales are up and the number of available homes is down. That is leading to more new homes being built, and new neighborhoods planned for 2017 and beyond.

Homes sales increased by about 100 in Johnson County through November from 2015 to 2016, according to data from the MIBOR Realtor Association. And the number of homes available for sale is down, leading to a sellers market, real estate agents said.

Homes priced under $300,000 are selling fast, said Greg Leugers, broker and owner of Keller Williams Hometown of Franklin.

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“The inventory on those is extremely low,” he said. “Those tend to fly off the market pretty quick. Days on the market are really low. It is really a sellers market.”

While home buyers had focused on properties in the city in the past, Leugers is now seeing an increased interest for homes on 2 to 5 acres of land.

The number of homes being built is also on the rise. In 2016, 568 permits were issued in Johnson County through November, compared to 548 through November in 2015, according to the Builders Association of Greater Indianapolis.

The increase in construction is directly tied to sales, Leugers said.

“When there is a lack of inventory, you will get a lot of people building,” he said.

That wasn’t the case several years ago.

“Two to three years ago, trying to get a builder to build a speculative home was almost impossible,” Leugers said. “There were plenty of homes on the market, and the demand wasn’t there.”

Mortgage rates at historically low levels have contributed to bringing buyers into the housing market, said Jerrod Klein, the division vice president of M/I Homes of Indiana. The home builder is developing about 100 new homes in Riley Meadows, on property that had been abandoned in the 1990s.

“Johnson County is a high demand market in which we are proud to be participating in,” Klein said. “The low inventory of used homes in the market, along with today’s buyer wanting the latest design trends, are a natural fit for new construction growth.”

Klein expects 2017 to continue to be a good year for the housing market.

“(This year) should be an exceptional time for sellers to sell and buyers to buy,” he said.

For buyers, Leugers’ advice is to have all their finances in order before beginning to look for a home. If they can get pre-approved for a loan, that can give them a leg up on their competition.

Lower interest rates have helped buyers, but Greenwood real estate broker Mike Duncan said tight banking regulations still make it harder for first-time buyers to enter the market.

For down payments, home buyers should plan to pay about 3.5 percent of the mortgage. He would recommend a prospective home buyer save $3,500 for a $100,000 home, for example, Duncan said.

By the numbers

Permits for single family buildings have increased in some local communities from last year. Here is how permits issued through November compare to the same time period last year.

Location;2015;2016

Johnson County;548;568

Greenwood;261;286

Bargersville;82;88

Franklin;60;61

Unincorporated Johnson County;123;116

SOURCE: Builders Association of Greater Indianapolis

By the numbers

Homes sales in Johnson County have been on the rise (through November)

2016: 2,567

2015: 2,468

SOURCE: Metropolitan Indianapolis Board of Realtors

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Jacob Tellers is a reporter at the Daily Journal. He can be reached at jtellers@dailyjournal.net or 317-736-2702.