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The housing market in Shelby County is almost back to pre-recession days, observers say, with increases across the board in both home sales and residential building permits during 2013.
Last year, the number of people building homes was up 16 percent, home sales were up 14 percent, the number of new homes sold was up by 40 percent and foreclosures were down 34 percent.
“It was an incredible year for real estate last year,” said Torrey Smith, owner of Torrey Smith Realty. “The market is very strong right now and is trending toward a seller’s market soon. I mean we’re running out of inventory.”
Shelby County numbers paint the following snapshot for 2013:
Triple S Planning and Zoning Executive Director Ryan Libke said that the increase in permits to build single-family homes is a trend that he has been seeing for at least the past three years.
“For stick-built homes [houses built entirely on site], numbers are up, if you look back at the trend, because in eleven , we only had a total of eighty-one dwelling units, and sixty-six stick-built homes,” he said.
Of the 134 single family homes, 76 were in the county, 50 were in the city of Shelbyville and 8 were in Simpsonville.
Libke said the 154 total dwelling permits taken out last year includes manufactured, modular or single-wide mobile homes, as well as duplexes, apartments, patio homes, condos and townhomes.
Homes in Shelby County sold for an average
Smith said that although the median home selling price varied, the average sale price was around the $170,000 range.
“The average days [for a house] on the market is less than seventy days, so we’re on a seven-month supply of housing now – once you get to a six-month supply of housing, you’re trending towards a seller’s market,” he said.
Good start to 2014
Smith said the housing market picture is looking good even in cold weather.
“We started off the year  real well too, so things are nice,” he said. “I don’t think we [Shelby County] really experienced the big low that some of the cities did across the nation. I think we’re just lucky to live in a location like we do, between Louisville and Lexington, and with the outlet mall coming, you know, I think our real estate market is stable.”
Tracy Barnett, manager of Coldwell Banker Larry Rogers Realty, echoed those sentiments.
“For residential [housing], we were up over last year  as a whole,” she said, adding that sales were up 14 percent in 2013.
“The first three quarters in 2013 were strong, and it kind of fell off that in the last quarter, which is typical because people usually don’t like to get out and list their houses and show them in colder weather. We’re still seeing activity, and inventory is down, as far as homes for sale, and there are buyers out looking.
“So it’s a good time to list now before you have that influx in March and April, because people looking to sell think that is a prime time.”
Just as more people were buying homes in Shelby County last year, fewer people were losing their homes to foreclosure.
What’s more, some are predicting that trend to continue throughout 2014.
“All indications are that they [foreclosures] will be down going forward,” Shelby County Master Commissioner Todd Davis said.
“In the 2013 calendar year, they were down slightly, but with the ones that we are scheduling now, if that trend holds, we will be down significantly this year,” he said. “I think the market is coming back.
“As a commissioner, I’m seeing more actual sales of property rather than simply refinancing of existing loans, and I think the overall market is definitely showing signs of recovering.”
Davis said there were only 75 foreclosures in 2013, compared to 120 in 2012, for a drop of 34 percent. That number was down slightly from 2011, when there were 144 foreclosures, a drastically better situation than in 2010, with 228 foreclosures.
Davis said that Shelby’s homes foreclosed on in 2013 were all purchased either by the lender or by a third party.
“It’s back to… well, I wouldn’t say it’s back to pre-two-thousand and eight figures, but it’s sure trending in that direction,” he said. “The values of the homes in foreclosure varied considerably.
“That’s really not a new development. We’ve always had a range of million-dollar homes to fifty-thousand-dollar homes.”
The least-expensive home ever foreclosed on in Shelby County was in 2008 on Chambers Lane at $8,100, and the most expensive was in 2013 on Woodlawn Road at a purchase price of $434,276.
Realty Trac Inc. reports that the state of Kentucky has an average foreclosure rate of .04 percent, which is lower than the national average of .09 percent.
The National Association of Realtors reported in November 2013 that foreclosures were up nationwide 9.4 percent from the previous November and that they sold for an average of 17 percent below market value.