According to the Kentucky Association of Realtors, the housing market in Eastern Kentucky is bouncing back — and 2019 shows no signs of it slowing.

According to KAR data, the Eastern Kentucky Association of Realtors, an area spanning the southeast part of the state including Johnson, Floyd, Pike and 10 other counties, saw a 16 percent increase in home sales from 2017 to 2018. Of the 20 associations across Kentucky, the Eastern Kentucky association was one of 13 to see an increase in sales, and its jump was the fourth-highest increase.

KAR CEO Steve Stevens says these increases are especially interesting given that 2017 was a huge year for home sales in Kentucky, breaking several records, and even for the seven districts that saw a decrease in 2018, the 2018 numbers still represent the second- or third-highest year on record.

This year, Stevens said, is again on pace with those years — and even without breaking 2018’s new record, 2019 should still represent one of the best years on record for the Eastern Kentucky housing market.

“The economy has been robust for a long period of time and we don’t really see that turning down much,” Stevens said. “It will probably go down a tenth this year, in terms of overall performance, but employment has grown.”

For example, through the month of March in Eastern Kentucky, 2015 saw 107 listings closed, and 2016 saw 99 listings closed, but in 2017 that shot up to 134, 165 in 2018 and 164 in 2019. The median closing price has also gone up, from $124,795 through March in 2018 and $130,577 through March of this year.

“Kentucky has had some good runs during the legislature to pass some pro-growth, pro-economic development, pro-business policy, and that’s stimulated job growth. We’ve seen recruitment of industry at an all-time high, and employment at an all-time high,” Stevens said. “We haven’t seen employment figures like this for 49 years.”

In addition to having jobs and being able to afford homes, realtors in the area say they’re seeing long-term opportunities on the horizon and disaster mitigation efforts will soon pay off.

“We’ve seen increases in education, with some new schools coming online, and existing schools have increased their programs with more offerings, so that’s a driver to the area,” said Norman Jones, local realtor and past president of KAR. “Plus, we have an overall positive impression of what’s going on and what the future holds. The flood program, that’s over 700 homes that will no longer be in the flood plain.”

Stevens said that the main bottleneck to growth in the area is inventory — having homes on the market to sell, especially affordable homes. New construction has been relatively slow compared to demand, in part because of the nature of the mountainous geography here.

For more information about the Kentucky Association of Realtors and the local Eastern Kentucky Association of Realtors, visit, kyrealtors.com.

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