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Housing market on the rebound; builders increase pace

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Kevin Hammack looks over a blueprint at a home construction site in the Hickory Stick Crossing subdivision in Bargersville.
Kevin Hammack looks over a blueprint at a home construction site in the Hickory Stick Crossing subdivision in Bargersville. PHOTO BY JOSH MARSHALL

A sign points the way to the neighborhood.
A sign points the way to the neighborhood. PHOTO BY JOSH MARSHALL

More homes were sold and construction began again in subdivisions as more people were willing to buy and build homes in 2012.

Local real estate agents and planning officials said residents were less worried about spending money to buy and build new homes as they re-entered the job market or locked in low interest rates on mortgages.

Last year, homebuilders received permits to build more than 470 single-family houses across the county, mostly in new sections of existing subdivisions, and more than 1,860 homes were sold, some after being listed for only weeks instead of months.

New-home construction increased about 15 percent in 2012, up from 409 permits issued in 2011. And about 7 percent more homes were sold last year, up from the 1,744 homes sold in 2011, according to the Builders Association of Greater Indianapolis and the Metropolitan Indianapolis Board of Realtors.

Home sales in Johnson County







*Through November

Source: Metropolitan Indianapolis Board of Realtors

“I think we’re seeing that people had halted for a while and started to save a little bit, were mindful of their money. Now they’re starting to see there is a true value to home ownership,” Century 21 real estate agent Laura O’Connor said.

Local real estate agents said fewer homes were for sale last year, but the homes that were on the market sold quickly.

RE/MAX associate broker Aaron Clark said six homes he sold in November and December were bought in an average of 17 days because people looking to purchase homes had received low interest rates on loans and were ready to buy. He said similar homes would have spent months on the market in previous years.

“It’s a good time to be a seller and a good time to be a buyer, which hardly ever happens,” Clark said.

Low interest rates and people finding work also prompted more residents to build homes this year, Bargersville Planning Director Deborah Luzier said. She attributed the increase in new-home construction to people feeling safe enough financially, by getting jobs and using savings, to build homes they’d been putting off.

Bargersville, Whiteland and the Center Grove area saw the largest increases in new-home construction in 2012, while Greenwood and New Whiteland saw their numbers go down. In Greenwood, about 6 percent fewer homes were built last year.

Bargersville had nearly twice as many homes built in 2012, from 31 in 2011 to 60 homes last year. Most of the homes built both years were in two subdivisions the town annexed in 2010 and 2011, Luzier said.

If the town had not annexed the subdivisions, Bargersville’s number of new home constructions would have been much lower, she said.

The two subdivisions, Somerset and The Enclave at Stones Crossing, are along State Road 135 and already had utilities set up and were ready for construction, Luzier said.

The number of homes built in the unincorporated areas of the county also increased last year, despite losing land to Bargersville in 2011.

“Generally, we’ve been up, which is actually kind of impressive given we lost territory (in 2011),” Johnson County Planning Director Bryan Pohl said.

A total of 136 were homes built in the unincorporated parts of the county last year, and nearly all were in White River Township, primarily in existing neighborhoods such as Hickory Stick and Brookhaven, Pohl said.

Developers had put work in those sections on hold until the economy became more stable, but they started building again as more families wanted new homes, Pohl said.

Three new sections of 20 to 40 homes were built in Hickory Stick last year, and Pohl said he expects a new section of homes to be built in the Calvert Farms subdivision this year.

“Eventually we’ll run out of new sections to open, and we’ll see new subdivisions. It certainly wouldn’t surprise me to see an application or two in 2013,” Pohl said.

New homes also were built in a Whiteland neighborhood where a developer put off construction for years, and Whiteland Town Manager Dennis Capozzi expects to see more homes built there this year.

Millstone, a subdivision off U.S. 31, opened seven years ago with homes built on 12 of the neighborhood’s 40 lots, Capozzi said. The empty lots were vacant until Arbor Homes bought the subdivision and built 18 homes there last year, Capozzi said.

Arbor Homes plans to build more homes in the subdivision this year, and Capozzi expects other homes to be constructed in Brunnemer Ridge, near Whiteland and Centerline roads. Fewer than 50 of the subdivision’s 206 lots have been built on, but Capozzi said he expects that to change as the economy continues to improve.

“We have the potential to grow quite a bit in coming years,” he said.

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