As we hit the halfway mark of the year -- at the end of June -- we started thinking about the need to find out how the local real estate market is doing.

Last year, 2018, was a record year. Thus we went into this story presuming it was at least possible that the local market could see a little bit of a drawback. Boy was that guess wrong.

As published Sunday, the real estate sales in the Greater Ashland Board of Realtors coverage area is off to a rapid clip.

The Daily Independent analyzed monthly home sales for the first seven months of 2019 in the Ashland Area Board of Realtors’ coverage area. They show an 18.4% increase in closed listings compared to the first seven months of 2018 — which constituted a record year. The closed listings jumped from 558 in 2018 to 696 in 2019 through July. Wow. So the numbers this year appear to be even better than last year so far.

If you crunched the numbers further you found that there was some moderation of course. The monthly median closing prices over seven months, the median closing price dropped by 2.9 percent. Total dollars sold dropped by 4.8 percent. All in all, these figures reaffirm to us that the market remains healthy.

We talked to some local Realtors about what is going on with the Ashland market. Lucien Ross, principal broker at Ross Real Estate Services, said a big part of the uptick is a positive attitude about the Ashland area’s future. Conley-Jones of RE/Max said sales are strong in Boyd County in part because of USDA loan incentives that allow for zero down purchases in rural areas.

We agree with Mr. Ross. With so many setbacks endured by the local economy, it seems to us like the Ashland area's time is arriving. With each month that goes by there is more commerce. The arrival of Braidy Industries has helped. There is a new business or a new development seemingly everywhere you look in Ashland. You see more people in downtown Ashland in particular. You now have a top notch hotel on the main corridor of the city. This of course draws attention and fuels momentum for something very important in real estate, and that is the community's mindset.

People are seeing there is a bright future ahead for Ashland and surrounding areas. To us we have always been surprised at how affordable real estate in Eastern Kentucky remains when compared to major metropolitan areas. Now, we know this is all relative, but still, a good house in the Tri-State region is within reach for a significant chunk of our population who are not wedded to Cadillac tastes. In major metro areas huge swaths of the population cannot say that a basic starter home is within reach.

We reported on this story in depth because we feel it is important. As real estate goes so does a lot of the economy. Gains in real estate values and sales fuels spending and consumption for the middle class. The latest numbers are good news and we look forward to what the statistics at the end of December show.

Are we on pace for yet another record year again? It certainly seems so at this point.

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