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New-home permits in county up 23% in ’13


Homebuilders are busier than last year.

Anticipated residential construction is up 23 percent through the first half of the year, compared with the same period in 2012, officials say. House prices are flat, though, averaging $222,467, compared with $222,462 last year.

The Home Builders Association of Fort Wayne on Wednesday said 413 construction permits were issued in Allen County through June 30, compared with 336 at the same point last year.

The group’s president said he expects the momentum to continue.

“I suspect that people are seeing the interest rates creep up and looking to buy a home before they go up any further,” Charlie Giese said. “It’s just a matter of existing home inventory being down, too. People aren’t finding what they want, so they’re building.”

Mindset is playing a factor as well.

The Conference Board, a New York-based private research group, said a week ago that its consumer confidence index jumped to 81.4 in June – the best showing since January 2008. The organization said people seem more encouraged about economic conditions, including the job outlook.

But while rising interest rates may prod some potential homeowners off the fence, they could also price others out if they can’t afford higher mortgage payments.

Local real estate companies remain upbeat. On Monday, Re/Max of Indiana said Allen County’s existing housing market is continuing to recover. The firm said the area recorded its strongest year-over-year growth in May with 505 homes getting new owners, compared with 441 homes in May 2012.

“An increase in demand, coupled with very little new construction to date, has contributed to an overall decrease in supply,” Todd Stock, Re/Max Results managing partner and owner, said in a statement.

“We are seeing great improvement in the local economy, unemployment is down, interest rates remain at historic lows, and consumer confidence is up. These are all indicators of a recovering market, and we anticipate the shift to continue in the months ahead.”

This month, the Upstate Alliance of Realtors, which tracks data from Allen, Adams, DeKalb, Huntington, Noble, Wells and Whitley counties, will release existing-home sales figures for June.

The Home Builders Association of Fort Wayne said there were 78 Allen County residential construction requests in June, compared with 82 permits the same month a year ago.