Building Boom: Indiana housing market setting records during the pandemic

Building Boom: Indiana housing market setting records during the pandemic

SOUTH BEND, Ind. --- One of the biggest surprises of 2020: A house-hunting frenzy in the Hoosier state!  

More and more people are flocking to buy homes in Indiana despite the loss of millions of jobs, a weaker economy, and a worldwide pandemic. 

But what’s contributing to the high demand for housing right now?  

“When the pandemic hit, and there was so much uncertainty about jobs, unemployment, I really thought the market would really dry up. Surprisingly, it took off,” Myron Larimier explained, CEO of the South Bend Area Realtors. 

There’s a lot working against a housing boom: a weak economy, a shortage of supplies like lumber and increased material costs but none of that is stopping folks from buying. 

Larimier says there’s also a lot of things working for the market right now because of the pandemic.  

Low-interest rates, a desire for more space for working from home, and even people moving to South Bend from bigger cities. 

 “Areas like South Bend become much more desirable in terms of affordability, in terms of some of the amenities we have here. We are a small city so we have just about everything everybody wants in terms of culture, and a university like Notre Dame at our doorstep,” Larimier said. 

The problem is there are not enough homes on the market to accommodate the number of buyers in our area. But, a solution is in the works. 

Just west of Bittersweet Road in Granger sits a 76-acre housing project, the Hills at St. Joe Farms. 

“New construction has been down more than 80 percent in our area,” Steve Smith said, co-owner of Irish Realty in South Bend. “In addition to just needing more home period we wanted to do something special out here, so this is more of an urban, suburban neighborhood.” 

“Tiffany: Why Granger, and why now?” 

“Steve: Ever since the great depression we’ve seen building and development come to a standstill and for more than a decade there have been no substantial developments.” 

Indiana is becoming more and more attractive for homebuyers between low prices, good schools, and a central location. In 2020 alone, nearly 24,000 building permits were issued in the Hoosier state. That number increasing by the thousands since 2015. 

YTD Permit Applications In Indiana via US Census Burea

  • 2019                 22,309

  • 2018                 21,480

  • 2017                 21,664 

  • 2016                 18,713 

  • 2015                  18,483

Cross the state line into Michigan and the number of building permits issued there is just shy of 19,700 in 2020. It’s the same story in Illinois, with even fewer permits given out, about 17,900. 

“It doesn’t surprise me at all. I think Indiana has got it going on. Nationally, we see buyers fleeing a high tax environment in Chicago and coming to this area. We see people retiring here and being closer to their grandkids,” Smith said. 

Statewide, roughly 96,000 homes were sold in Indiana in 2020, a 6.4% increase from 2019. It was a record year for residential real estate with the pandemic forcing nearly everyone to re-evaluate their homes.  

Heading into the rest of 2021, realtors are cautiously optimistic, with the demand for homes still skyrocketing.  

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