From TheStarPress.com. 3/2/15
MUNCIE – January was a cold month, but home sales locally couldn’t have been hotter.
New listings and closed sales jumped in January compared to the same month a year ago, according to figures released by the Indiana Association of Realtors. While sale prices were down slightly, another signifier of the improving housing market — more homes on the market — was also up.
Home sales are just one of a set of economic indicators that consumers use, informally, to gauge how they feel about the economy. Did my neighbor’s house sell? Would mine? How much did it cost to fill my car’s gas tank? They are questions that tell us more than the volatile stock market
As for home sales, the real estate group said closed sales in Delaware County were up 26.9 percent in January compared to the year before. The group said 66 homes were sold compared to 52 in January 2014.
New listings — a good indication that people feel positive enough to try to sell their homes —were up 34.6 percent. More than 100 homes were new to sales listings, compared to 81 a year earlier.
The median sale price locally in January was $60,977 compared to the median sale price of $63,000 in January 2014. More than 90 percent of the original list price was received at sale, the group said.
About 620 homes were for sale locally in January compared to 538 a year earlier, a big indicator that people think they can sell their homes right now.
The Star Press recently reported that while new building starts were relatively stagnant in Delaware County, building had picked up in the Yorktown area.
Also up locally: Residential remodeling projects, which are a mixed indicator. Homeowners who are not financially confident enough to build a new home will take on remodeling projects.
According to figures recently released, rural Delaware County areas saw 15 residential remodel building permits in 2014 compared to 39 in Yorktown.
Gas prices up, unemployment down
Among other indicators, two sets of unemployment figures — for January and February — will be released in mid-to-late March.
The most recent unemployment numbers for Delaware County, released at the end of January, put the local jobless rate at 6.6 percent in December, down slightly from November and from the year before.
Almost as important an indicator as unemployment are the latest gas prices, which economists say have an immediate impact on the economy and how people feel about their wallets, which in turn affects their willingness to spend.
After dropping to recent record lows in the depths of the winter, gas prices have been on the rise in the past few weeks.
The Gas Buddy Blog noted that the gas prices have risen steadily along with oil prices.
Gas typically sold in the $2.25-a-gallon range in Muncie in the middle of last week. That’s an increase from recent prices that dipped below $2 a few weeks ago but still better — and thus more encouraging for the economy — than highs of more than $3 a gallon.
Contact Keith Roysdon at 765-213-5828 and follow him on Twitter: @keithroysdon