With construction continuing in at least three neighborhoods, the number of new homes under construction over the past year in Franklin was the highest in at least 10 years.

Across the county, the number of permits for new homes issued through November 2017 beat the total for all of 2016, according to the Builders Association of Greater Indianapolis.

At the same time, home sales stayed steady from the last two years, despite fewer homes on the market, and prices skyrocketed due to the demand.

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Local real estate agents and home builders said the continued rebound of the housing market is driven by a growing economy and good interest rates, and they expect the trend to continue for at least the next couple years.

Home builders received permits to construct 594 homes in Johnson County in 2016. In 2017, 657 permits were issued by the end of November, leaving the county on pace to have an increase in home construction of about 15 percent once December permits are counted, according to Builders Association of Greater Indianapolis data.

Franklin had the largest increase in the number of building permits issued in Johnson County. For the past several years, the city had hovered around about 60 new homes each year. That number doubled to at least 121 in 2017, helped by 78 new home permits applied for by Indianapolis-based home builder Arbor Homes.

A growing economy, reasonable interest rates and a shortage of current homes listed for sale have contributed to the demand for newly built homes, said Steve Hatchel, vice president of sales and marketing for Arbor Homes.

Construction also is expanding more into communities further from Indianapolis, where cities not directly adjacent to Marion County, such as Franklin or Greenfield, are seeing more interest from buyers and builders, Hatchel said.

Arbor Homes applied for nearly 200 home construction permits for four neighborhoods in Johnson County. Two of those neighborhoods — Heritage and Cumberland Trace — accounted for 78 of the new permits in Franklin during 2016. Those neighborhoods, along with Briarstone in Greenwood and Millstone in Whiteland, have lots left to build on. Including the Cherry Tree neighborhood in Greenwood where construction will begin in 2018, Hatchel estimates that Arbor Homes has about 450 lots remaining to build on.

“I believe at least the next couple of years look good,” he said. “It is hard to look much harder than a couple of years out.”

One factor leading to the increase has been the demand from buyers, Hatchel said.

Homes sales have remained steady in Johnson County, but prices have jumped dramatically due to fewer homes being listed for sale. Data from the Metropolitan Indianapolis Board of Realtors shows that the average sales price of a home in Johnson County during November 2016 was $167,000. That price jumped to $200,000 one year later in 2017.

“People are hearing about the good things happening here in Johnson County and that is what is driving them here,” Keller Williams Hometown of Franklin owner Greg Leugers said.

“Especially with Franklin, they have done an amazing job with the downtown and attracting businesses, and that is driving a lot of people wanting to live there.”

Ten years ago, someone selling a home near downtown Franklin could have expected a lengthy time on the market. Now, with the revitalized downtown, that isn’t the case, Leugers said.

A home that is priced correctly often will sell after being on the market only for a couple of days, with homeowners often receiving multiple offers, he said.

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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.