GREENFIELD — The Reeds had outgrown their home.
Late last year, Maddie Reed and husband Matt of Greenfield were in the market for a larger home. They envisioned something with a basement, more room to spread out and accommodate their family of six.
They spent a year looking at houses for sale in Greenfield before deciding they were better off building, she said.
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The housing market in Hancock County — considering both existing and new construction — was hot in 2017, with some experts suggesting that’s because in some cases it’s easier to start from scratch than bid on an existing home with so few options on the market. Builders and realtors expect that trend to continue throughout 2018.
The number of new homes being constructed in Hancock County hit a 10-year high last year. In 2017, builders and developers applied for nearly 460 building permits for new homes across Hancock County, according to data from the Builders Association of Greater Indianapolis.
That’s more than the county has seen since 2006.
Of Hancock County’s communities, Greenfield saw the largest increase in building permits in 2017. For the first time in a decade, the city issued more than 100 builder permits, data shows. For much of the past 10 years, the number of building permits issued hovered around 50.
For years, community stakeholders have worked to revitalize Greenfield’s downtown and offer amenities residents have asked for. In the past few years, more shops and restaurants have popped up around the intersection of State and Main Streets, and city officials last month broke ground on a new splash pad that’s expected to open this summer at the city pool.
They hope that effort has contributed to the increase in permits issued.
Across the county, home construction in a handful of subdivisions is expected to rev up as spring nears, and the county thaws from winter.
In the Summerset subdivision, on Blue Road near McKenzie Road, construction on Phase 2 has kicked off. More than eight acres of land will be developed for homes.
The subdivision consists of about 55 homes, and the second phase will add 29, said Sara Joyner of Joyner Homes, the developer building the subdivision.
Joyner Homes, the builders developing the subdivision, told the city council last year construction on the addition expansion would take about 36 months to complete.
About a mile east, Arbor Homes continues to build in the Keystone subdivision. Last year, the developer applied for nearly half of the permits Greenfield issued, reports show.
When the company approached city officials last June about expanding, just four lots remained for sale in the subdivision.
Arbor Homes was given the green light to develop 72 more plots of land, and they’re expected to sell fast.
The developer sells about 50 to 60 homes there every year, said Steve Hatchel, Arbor Homes vice president of sales and marketing.
Once those 72 lots are sold, Arbor Homes still has about 125 lots that can be developed, Hatchel said.
Besides low interest rates and a growing economy, a shortage of existing homes being listed for sale has likely contributed to the demand for newly built homes throughout central Indiana, Hatchel said.
Home sales have continued to climb in Hancock County, and homes are selling faster and for higher asking prices than in recent years, according to MIBOR Realtor Association.
Data shows the number of home listings in January dropped about 22 percent compared with the year prior. Inventory in 2017 stood at about 7,500 and fell to below 6,000 in the first month of the new year.
With fewer existing homes to choose from, many home buyers are deciding to build, Hatchel said. And Greenfield is one of the top communities surrounding Indianapolis for home sales.
The Reeds expect to move into their new home in The Meadows subdivision, on McKenzie Road just west of Franklin Street, this fall. It will boast four bedrooms, a basement and a playroom for their children.
When they began looking for a new home, they were adamant about staying in Greenfield. The city still has a small-town feel but offers everything they need from day to day, she said.
As the market has expanded, people are more willing to live in the suburbs and drive into Indianapolis for work, making Greenfield and the surrounding area attractive, Hatchel said.
There’s easy access to the interstate, affordable homes and nearby amenities.
“People want to be away from the hustle and bustle, if you will,” he said. “They want the country feel … that Greenfield offers.”
Home construction in 2018 will likely continue to be strong throughout the metro area, said Steve Lains, Chief Executive Officer of the Builders Association of Greater Indianapolis.
And communities like Greenfield — which boasts a growing downtown — will attract residents looking to build. Millennials and even empty-nesters are looking for small lots of land near amenities, like retail and restaurants, he said.