News From Terre Haute, Indiana

News

February 9, 2011

Groundhog Day Economic Forecast 2011: Optimistic outlook

But foreclosures are still hampering Terre Haute housing market

TERRE HAUTE — The groundhog definitely didn’t see its shadow during a 2011 economic forecast Tuesday at Indiana State University.

“The GDP [gross domestic product] report from the fourth quarter [of last year] of 3.2 percent growth was slower than anticipated, but the interesting thing to me about it was… consumption being a significant positive contributor to the GDP growth for the first time in the course of the [economic] recovery,” said Robert Guell, professor of economics at ISU.

Inventories declined, not in an attempt to reduce a possible backlog of products, but because more consumers apparently bought items, Guell said during the 2011 Groundhog Day Economic Forecast, sponsored by the Terre Haute Chamber of Commerce, Indiana State University’s Scott College of Business and Terre Haute Savings Bank. It was the 15th annual forecast, an event staged annually on ISU’s campus.

“I believe that GDP growth is now sustainable. The false works of … the stimulus package are no longer necessary,” Guell said, adding that false works are similar to structures put under a bridge to sustain it until completed.

The nation’s GDP growth is fast enough to bring about slow decreases in unemployment, Guell said.

However, one problem is still hitting Terre Haute hard — home foreclosures, said Brian Conley, president of Conley Real Estate Appraisals and president of the Terre Haute Area Association of REALTORS Multiple Listing Service (MLS).

 Conley said 18 months ago he predicted that Terre Haute would drop to 900 sales by early this year, down from “good sales years” that brought 1,200 to 1,400 residential home sales.

“Unfortunately I was correct as we are now at 898 [home] sales,” Conley said.

In addition, the number of home listings is dropping. However, the average price paid for homes in Vigo County is increasing. It was $102,424 in 2010, the highest ever, Conley said, topping a 2006 high of $100,475.

The median price in Vigo County was $80,000 in 2010, down from a high of $83,250 in 2006. The median home sale in Indiana in 2010 was $112,000.

Conley said such data in Vigo County seems to go against supply-and-demand economics; however, Conley said Vigo County still has a “high number of foreclosures. One real estate agency told me they have over 90 listings of foreclosed houses,” Conley said.

Many of those homes are being sold on the Internet by an Indianapolis firm, Conley said. Because of that, those sales are not “going though our MLS any longer. I think that is part of the reason the median price and the average price is going up,” Conley said.

Compared to Indiana as a whole, the number of new listings in Vigo County decreased 3.57 percent over the last year, while sales statewide dropped 0.5 percent. However, the number of pending sales in Vigo County this month is up 15.48 percent over February 2010. In the state, pending sales this month were down 6.6 percent, Conley said.

“The number of closed sales [so far this year] is down 6.35 percent in Vigo County and statewide it is down 6.6 percent. The median sales price is up 0.13 percent in Vigo County, while statewide it is up 1.8 percent. We are kind of following what is going on in the state of Indiana. If things are correct and are more optimistic, sales should be up,” this year, Conley said.

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