Real estate experts optimistic after strong gains in 2013



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HANCOCK COUNTY — Winter weather and frigid temperatures have done little to slow Stacy West’s momentum.

West, an agent with Prudential Indiana Realty Group, is finding that even the dead of winter is a good time to be selling houses.

“We are slammed here,” the Greenfield real estate agent said. “It’s crazy busy right now.”

West is just one of many local real estate professionals who have enjoyed the past 12 months in Hancock County.

For the first time since the bottom fell out of the market in 2007, conditions began to line up ideally in the housing market in 2013: Inventories of existing single-family homes were low, sales were up and new housing starts continued to rise.

The Builders Association of Greater Indianapolis reported this week that the central Indiana home-construction industry finished its best year since 2007.

New-home permits were up 34 percent countywide, a number that pleased local officials.

“It’s looking up,” said Joanie Fitzwater, city planning director for the city of Greenfield, where housing starts jumped just under 60 percent over 2012.

The recent numbers are far below those of the peak years of the housing bubble in the early 2000s, but they are encouraging.

The city posted 67 new housing permits in 2013, up from 42 for the prior year, and the strongest finish since 2007, when 155 permits were pulled, city records show.

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