NWI home sales heat up in May

2013-06-19T13:45:00Z 2014-06-23T09:36:04Z NWI home sales heat up in MayBy Keith Benman keith.benman@nwi.com, (219) 933-3326 nwitimes.com

The number of existing homes sold in Northwest Indiana shot up 29.6 percent in May as compared to one year ago, the latest in an unbroken string of increases dating back to July 2011.

In all, 928 homes were sold in the five-county area covered by the Greater Northwest Indiana Association of Realtors in May, as compared to 716 in May 2012, according to association sales figures.

Inventories of homes available for sale in some price ranges are tightening considerably as the market improves, according to Carol Dobrzynski, a Realtor with ReMax Realty Associates in Munster.

"There is strong demand right now," she said. "With a lot of bigger homes, such as in Munster, in the $500,000 to $700,000 range, there is strong demand but not enough inventory."

Sales of more modest homes continue to be driven by low interest rates and down-payment assistance programs sponsored by city governments in cities like Hammond and East Chicago, Dobrzynski said. Northwest Indiana's low property taxes as compared to Illinois are also driving home sales here.

Greater Northwest Indiana Association of Realtors data shows home sales in Lake County jumped 34.8 percent in May. However, prices have remained moderate even with the strong increase in sales, with the median selling price actually dropping 1.7 percent to $125,000.

In Porter County, sales increased 19.2 percent in May as compared to the year-ago month, with the median sales price increasing 2.6 percent to $159,000.

Nationally, single-family home sales increased 12.7 percent in May as compared to the year-ago month, according to the National Association of Realtors. The median selling price of a single-family home in May was $208,700, a 15.8 percent increase over May of 2012.

Interest rates remain at historic lows, but have started to creep upward, with Freddie Mac's weekly survey pegging last week's average rate on a conventional 30-year, fixed rate mortgage at 3.98 percent.

In each of the six weeks previous, mortgage rates have crept up from their second-lowest point of the year in early May, when they stood at 3.35 percent.

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