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BusINess » Business » NWI home sales get hot in winter’s depth

NWI home sales get hot in winter’s depth

A Realtor shows a couple the kitchen of a Valparaiso home. Home sales increased 32.3 percent in January from January 2010 in Northwest Indiana. (Photograph by Kyle Telechan, file | The Times.)

A Realtor shows a couple the kitchen of a Valparaiso home. Home sales increased 32.3 percent in January from January 2010 in Northwest Indiana.
(Photograph by Kyle Telechan, file | The Times.)

For the first time in seven months in Northwest Indiana, existing single-family home sales increased compared to one year ago, giving Realtors hope a housing market turnaround is starting.

Home sales increased 32.3 percent in January from January 2010, with the median selling price holding stable at $115,000 in the five-county area, according to the Greater Northwest Indiana Association of Realtors.

“January’s 32 percent increase in the number of homes sold is significant because it reflects a very sizable increase over last January, when the federal tax credits were in play,” said Peter Novak Jr., CEO of the Greater Northwest Indiana Association of Realtors.

“Local Realtors have been cautiously optimistic that the housing market, both locally and nationally, is headed in the right direction,” he said.

In Porter County the increase was particularly sharp, with 51.7 percent more homes sold in January than one year ago.

Until July, home sales had benefited from two years of federal homebuyer tax credits of up to $8,000. When those credits ended, home sales plummeted and Realtors have been wondering when the market would recover.

Nationally, existing single-family home sales increased 4.9 percent in January from January 2010, according to the National Association of Realtors. Overall, it was the first time in seven months existing home sales were higher than in the same period one year ago.

“The uptrend in home sales is consistent with improvements in the economy and jobs, which are helping boost consumer confidence,” said Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the National Association of Realtors.

Yun, however, noted that although housing affordability still is favorable, buyers still are constrained by what he called “unnecessarily” tight credit.

According to Freddie Mac, the national average commitment rate for a 30-year conventional fixed-rate mortgage was 4.76 percent in January, compared to 5.03 percent in January 2010.

In Northwest Indiana, home sales in Lake County were up 15.4 percent in January, with the median selling price declining a slight 2.4 percent, according to the Greater Northwest Indiana Association of Realtors.

The association reports home sales in Lake, Porter, LaPorte, Jasper and Newton counties.

From July through November 2010 in Northwest Indiana, home sales fell an average of 28.1 percent each month compared to the year-ago month. That staggering drop more than made up for booming sales in the first half of the year as people rushed to take advantage of the expiring tax credits.

For the full year of 2010, Realtors in the five counties sold 6,816 homes, compared to 7,124 homes sold in 2009, according to the Greater Northwest Indiana Association of Realtors.

Northwest Indiana home sales took off in January

Lake County existing single-family homes sold
Jan 2011: 217
Jan 2010: 188

Porter County existing single-family homes sold
Jan 2011: 91
Jan 2010: 60

Source: Greater Northwest Indiana Association of Realtors

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