Home sales and prices in Central Indiana increased modestly during the first half of 2006 compared to the same period last year, impacted by rising for-sale inventory, according to data compiled by F.C. Tucker Co.

Home sales in the nine-county region surrounding Indianapolis eked out a 1.9 percent gain over the year-ago period, rising from 14,910 to 15,192. Average home sales prices gained 1.4 percent to $154,545, up from $152,469 during the January-June period in 2005.

“We expected growth in 2006 to be slow and steady, and that’s exactly what we’re seeing,” said H. James Litten, president of F.C. Tucker Company’s Residential Real Estate Services Division. “Central Indiana has seen an increase in overall housing inventory, which has tempered growth slightly. However, the Indianapolis area is known for steadier growth than other areas of the country. The fact remains, it’s still a great time to buy a home.”

Hendricks County experienced the most impressive growth in the first half of 2006, with an average of 1,253 homes sold — a solid 5 percent increase over 2005. Marion County also performed well, jumping 3 percent. Shelby County saw the largest dip as home sales dropped 7.5 percent.

“Considering certain economic factors such as increased interest rates and lower consumer confidence, our area is performing well,” Litten said. “It’s no surprise Hendricks County has seen such solid growth. The western suburbs of Indianapolis — Avon, Brownsburg, Plainfield — have become real hot spots.”

The area’s most expensive homes continue to sell in Hamilton County, with an average sales price of $255,729 — a 5.6 percent increase over last year. However, Boone County experienced the largest increase at 7.8 percent, with homes selling at an average price of $250,153. Home prices in Madison and Shelby counties have slumped, dropping 9.2 percent and 5.7 percent, respectively. The two counties also have the lowest average home sales prices.

Homes in central Indiana are spending an average of 83 days on the market, up slightly more than 5 percent over last year. Homes in Madison and Morgan counties are taking the longest to sell, averaging 107 and 100 days, respectively. The average number of days homes are spending on the market increased in all counties but one — Hancock County’s average is unchanged.

“The increased housing inventory is certainly a factor in how quickly our homes are selling,” Litten noted. “With supply outweighing demand, sellers are having a more difficult time right now.”

Homes in the Indianapolis area do not appear to be getting any larger, F.C. Tucker reported. In fact, the average square footage of home sold during the first half of 2006 is identical to those sold during the first six months of 2005: 2,129 square feet. The largest homes are being sold in Hamilton and Boone counties, with averages of 2,879 square feet and 2,741 square feet, respectively. More modest homes can be found in Madison County (1,711 square feet) and Shelby County (1,803 square feet).

Data was compiled by F.C. Tucker Co. based on statistics drawn from the Metropolitan Indianapolis Board of Realtors.

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