New home starts in Scott County jumped 49 percent last year compared with 2011, according to data released Friday by Ruhl & Ruhl Realtors.

David Falk, director of new construction and development for Ruhl, said that each year the company tracks new home starts from area municipalities based on building permits issued and not necessarily homes that have been completed.

Data is for all new starts in the area, not just those involving Ruhl & Ruhl clients and properties, he added.

Falk said Scott County’s

49 percent growth represents new starts increasing from 334 in 2011 to 498 in 2012. In contrast, Rock Island County had new home starts go up from 120 in 2011 to 125 in 2012, a 4 percent hike.

“But even with additional new home starts and increased sales, available inventory remains low,” Falk said.

He said numbers from the Quad-City Area Realtor Association also reported an increase in overall unit sales for new homes of 17 percent for 2012. In Scott County, overall sales grew by 21 percent, while Rock Island County saw sales dip by

19 percent.

“We are definitely seeing numbers pick up on that side of the river,” said Lynsey Engels, general manager of the real estate division of Mel Foster Co., referring to Rock Island County. “But from a land standpoint, there is not as much land opportunity there like there is on the Iowa side of the river. In Scott County, there is a lot of opportunity.

“But it has been great to see the increase in new construction numbers. The company opened up three new subdivisions in the second part of 2012, and 50 percent of the lots were already sold by the end of the year. We have plans to open up three to four more subdivisions in 2013 to keep up with the increased demand. There are new developments going up, and not just for Mel Foster.”

The average sales price of a new house in Scott County was $365,317, while an average new condo sold for $212,942.

In Rock Island County, the average new house sold for $211,109, and new condos averaged $221,475, Falk said, according to the association.

Falk said he thinks the difference in new home starts between Rock Island and Scott County is based on several factors, including higher property taxes in Illinois, expected increases in Illinois state taxes and a higher demand for new homes in Scott County the past 10 to 20 years.