Central Indiana homebuilders see slowest March in eight years

Applications for home construction fell sharply in central Indiana last month, marking the first year-over-year decline in March in eight years.

Builders filed 557 single-family construction permits in the nine-county area last month, a 23 percent decline over the 723 permits they filed the previous March, according to the Builders Association of Greater Indianapolis.

Permit filings have fallen for the past four months following a 14-month streak of year-over-year increases.

The last time they fell in March was in 2011, when builders filed 374 permits, a decrease of 21 percent from March 2010.

Last year turned out to be the busiest year for builders in more than a decade, but filings began slowing in the fourth quarter and continued into 2019.

Permits are down 13 percent, to 1,472, during the first three months of the year, from 1,698 in the same time frame of 2018.

"March’s permit numbers are a continuation of the softening we’ve seen since the fourth quarter of 2018," BAGI chief executive Steve Lains said in written comments. "Although we are still consistently battling affordability issues, we will also be evaluating the impact that weather had on this month’s downturn as we move forward. With those factors in consideration, we still believe 2019 is going to be a similarly stable year to 2018.”

County numbers

Hamilton County, typically a hotbed for residential construction, saw permit filings fall 34 percent in March, from 293 to 192.

Marion County filings dropped 13 percent last month, to 133, down from 153 the previous year.

Johnson County filings dipped 5 percent, to 61.

Hendricks County's numbers were down 7 percent, to 64.

Hancock County saw permits decline by 44 percent, to 27. Filings dropped 42 percent in Boone County, to 35.

Filings rose from 18 to 27 in Morgan County and from eight to 15 in Madison County. They fell from 10 to three in Shelby County.

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