MURRAY — Statistics show that the housing market both in Murray-Calloway County and across Kentucky in general is in the midst of a major boom and it does not appear this trend will subside anytime soon.
In fact, so far in 2019, Murray-Calloway has already well surpassed the number of closed listings for the previous four years, with 71 houses having been closed so far; 37 of those were in the month of March alone.
“The last few years, in fact, have been great for a number of reasons,” said Michael Stanger, who is the president-elect for the Murray-Calloway County Board of Realtors. “For one thing, interest rates are low. Then you have inventory being low, plus we’re having a low number of days that houses are staying on the market.
“That tells you demand is high for houses, and that creates an environment where prices have increased while marketing times have remained low. In other words, if you’re thinking about selling your house, now is a good time to do it.”
Steve Stevens, the CEO of the Kentucky Association of Realtors, said this trend is being seen throughout the commonwealth as well.
“We’ve actually had record-setting years in 2015, 2016 and again in 2017, where we beat our record every year, and we’re already on track this year to be at that record number again and to surpass it,” Stevens said earlier this week as he attended a Murray-Calloway business meeting. “Why does this happen? It’s because we have a very robust economy going on, so with that, we have business growth, we have business investment and residential investment that are all high right now.
“In turn, we’re seeing job creation like crazy so that means wages are increasing and means personal income growth. That’s good for realtors. And, with all of this economic activity, we don’t see a slowdown coming, even though people like to be doomsdayers. But on July 4, we will have the largest economic expansion, here in Kentucky, in U.S. history.”
Current Murray-Calloway Association Executive Twilla Williams said there are moments she has a hard time believing that the figures she is sending to the state association are accurate.
“It just keeps going up for us. It’s one of those things where I’m having to double-check to make sure I did the numbers correctly because you’re so surprised by them,” Williams said.
Stevens said that western Kentucky in general, has been very strong in previous years.
“With this region in particular, even the (real estate districts) that fall below the line of record years, they’re still having their second or third-best years ever,” he said, discussing one negative. “The scary thing is that, relative to inventory shrinking so quickly, there’s only so long that you can keep having numbers like that. I
“The economy, though, is still strong and is going to remain strong. In the last 12 months, this country has added 2.6 million jobs and to have a growing economy, you need to have an average of 150,000 new jobs a month. Well, in March, the country added 191,000 jobs, then in April, it added 263,000, so we’re far ahead of that 150,000 benchmark. People keep saying, ‘Oh it’s coming! It’s coming (referring to an economic recession).’ No it’s not.”
“It’s a great time to be in our business, no question about that,” said Rip Phillips, president of the Kentucky Association. “We just need a little more inventory.”
In Murray-Calloway, job creation is getting a boost, thanks to the opening of the DAE-IL auto parts manufacturing facility that is expected to happen sometime this summer. That eventually is expected to generate as many as 200 jobs, and it is also expected that those employees will need places to live that are close to the plant.
Stevens said that is a trend statewide as well with manufacturing facilities being established in several places.
“In the last 12 months, this country has added 2.6 million jobs. Well, those people need to live close to where they work,” he said, discussing the drawback of a low-inventory market. “For example, with this plant about to open, if people are moving here to work and Murray doesn’t have the houses available and, say, Mayfield does, they’re going to go to Mayfield.
“We need this state to continue putting in pro-business policies that help increase wages. We also need more affordable housing with first-time buyer tax credits like other states have. We need our legislature to do that and we very well could have that as a priority for the next legislative session.”