HANCOCK COUNTY — Lara Luebbe and her husband didn’t plan to pack up and move to Tennessee so quickly.
After their grown children moved there to start families and Lara’s parents followed, the Luebbes knew they would eventually downsize and head south. They planned to wait a year or two to put their Greenfield house on the market.
But a booming housing market sped up those plans, she said.
An offer for their three-bedroom home in Hampton Place — $5,000 more than their asking price — came in six hours after the for-sale sign went up a few months ago, Luebbe said. She and her husband were given just two hours to accept it before the buyer would move on.
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A week and a half ago, the Luebbes packed up their belongings and moved.
It’s a story real estate agents are hearing consistently as homes across central Indiana reach selling prices the market hasn’t seen in years while buyers scramble to snap up a limited number of properties.
The average price of a house in Hancock County reached an $185,000 in May — a 7.5 percent hike from the same time last year, when houses went for roughly $172,000, according to data from the F.C. Tucker Co., which monitors housing data throughout central Indiana.
And while demand has grown locally, supply has shrunk. Just 248 homes were listed on the market in May, 78 fewer than the same time in 2016, data shows.
Those market trends are forcing buyers to act fast if they find a house they love, and most of the time, they’re paying the seller’s asking price — or more — to ensure their offer is accepted, local realtors said.
Homes are selling in 63 days on average, about 11 days faster than last year, data show.
Homes priced from about $90,000 to $250,000 are in high demand in Hancock County, while the market is a little slower for homes priced above $350,000, said Mark Dudley, owner of Re/Max Realty Group in Greenfield.
Prices have been rising steadily since January; Dudley said he’s surprised to see that trend continue through June and July, when offices aren’t typically as busy because families are preoccupied with vacations and — for those with children, summer sports leagues.
“We’re really swamped right now,” Dudley said. “It’s a really active market.”
He suspects his office will be even busier next month when kids return to school.
For most real estate agents, now is the busiest they’ve ever been, said Jeff Miles a local realtor with F.C. Tucker Co. Many are experiencing their best year ever, he added.
When Luebbe put her house on the market, she thought it was priced too high, that she and her husband would have to negotiate and accept a lower offer, going through the back-and-forth she’d seen others experience in years past. She expected it would take a few days, maybe even a few weeks, to start seeing any interest in the nearly 3,000-square-foot home.
But almost immediately, five showings were booked. By hour eight, the family was ready to take the for-sale sign down.
“We got lucky,” Luebbe said. “I didn’t expect it to sell so quickly.”
Those conditions aren’t unique to Hancock County — or even Indiana, Dudley said.
Luebbe learned that when she began looking for a new home in Tennessee. She had to drive there three separate times to look at houses. When they finally found one they loved, they forked over more than asking price.
Her advice? If you’re planning to sell, find a new house first.
Bo Sparks was relieved it didn’t take months to find a new house after she recently sold her home on Greenfield’s east side.
After her husband died in February, she was ready to trade in her country home and farmland for a smaller house in city limits.
A model home no longer in use in the Somerset subdivision went on the market, and she knew it was exactly what she wanted.
She listed her home on a Friday, and by Sunday evening, she had two offers, with both buyers agreeing to pay more than what she asked.
She officially sold her farmhouse just a few hours before she closed on her new home.
She feels fortunate knowing she had an easy time buying a house with so few up for sale, especially as she watches her sister struggle to find a new place to live.
“It all happened just like it was supposed to,” Sparks said.