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An "Under Contract" sign is posted in front of a home for sale in Charlotte, North Carolina. Home sales in Northwest Indiana were close to even in July as compared to a year ago, and they were up more than 2 percent nationally.

AP Photo/Chuck Burton, File

Home sales in Northwest Indiana were level in July as compared to a year ago, while the median sale price ticked up 2.5 percent.

Sales in the seven counties that make up the Greater Northwest Indiana Association of Realtors totaled 1,035 in July, down eight from a year ago, according to GNIAR's Multiple Listing Service. The median price of $165,000 was an increase of $4,000 from last year.

The association's CEO said the month reflected trends typical to the recent housing market, with good sales numbers and rising prices.

"We're still just very short on inventory," Peter Novak said. "That part looks like it isn't changing much."

For 2017 through July, a sales total of 6,313 represents a 3.1 percent increase over the first seven months of 2016. The median price of $155,000 is up 5.4 percent.

Sales were up 3.2 percent in July in Lake County, to 609. Porter County saw a drop of 12.7 percent to 233 homes sold, while LaPorte County saw a sharp increase of 26.9 percent, to 132.

Median prices were $159,900 in Lake County, up 0.3 percent; $200,000 in Porter County, up 12.4 percent; and $134,950 in LaPorte County, down 18.4 percent.

Nationally, sales of existing homes were 2.1 percent higher in July than a year ago, totaling 5.44 million, according to the National Association of Realtors. But July had the lowest number of sales this year.

“Buyer interest in most of the country has held up strongly this summer and homes are selling fast, but the negative effect of not enough inventory to choose from and its pressure on overall affordability put the brakes on what should’ve been a higher sales pace,” Lawrence Yun, the NAR's chief economist, said. “Contract activity has mostly trended downward since February and ultimately put a large dent on closings last month.”

The median price continues to rise nationally as well as locally. July's $258,300 was a 6.2 percent increase over July 2016. Yun attributed that to a low inventory of homes for sale, which is also reflected in the time homes spend on the market — 28 days in July as compared to 36 a year ago.

"This speaks to the significant pent-up demand for buying rather than any perceived loss of interest," Yun said.

Novak said the amount of time houses in Northwest Indiana spend on the market is also very low.

"That's what tells us it's a sellers market," he said. "When (potential buyers) find something, they compete pretty hard for it." 

Other July statistics from the NAR included:

• The average commitment rate for a 30-year, conventional fixed-rate mortage was 3.97, up from 3.90 percent in June, according to Freddie Mac.

• 33 percent of sales were to first-time buyers, up from 32 percent a year ago.

• 19 percent of transactions were all-cash.

• 5 percent of sales were foreclosures or short sales.


Transportation reporter

Andrew covers transportation, real estate, casinos and other topics for The Times business section. A Crown Point native, he joined The Times in 2014, and has more than 15 years experience as a reporter and editor at Region newspapers.