NWI home sales stay hot in winter

2013-03-21T09:45:00Z 2013-03-22T10:59:31Z NWI home sales stay hot in winterKeith Benman keith.benman@nwi.com, (219) 933-3326 nwitimes.com

Single-family home sales in Northwest Indiana rose 23.1 percent in February as compared to February 2012, marking the 20th straight monthly increase in home sales, according to the Greater Northwest Indiana Association of Realtors.

Move-up buyers looking for larger, nicer homes are reinvigorating the housing market, with a surprising number prepared to make cash purchases, according to Carol Dobrzynski, a Realtor with ReMax Realty Associates in Munster.

"If it's turnkey ready, all ready to move in, they are going very fast," Dobrzynski said. "We can't write them up fast enough."

A lack of inventory in homes for sale is now the problem, representing a dramatic turnaround from the situation during the recession. Dobrzynski feels some potential sellers may be holding back, afraid that home values have not yet recovered or that the time is not right.

Nationally, single-family home sales rose 8.7 percent in February as compared to the year-ago month, according to the National Association of Realtors. The median single-family home price was $173,800 in February, which was 11.3 percent higher than one year ago.

The only headwinds faced by the housing market now are a limited supply of homes for sale in many parts of the country and restrictive credit conditions, said Lawrence Yun, National Association of Realtors chief economist.

"Job growth in the improving economy and pent-up demand are causing both home sales and rental leasing to rise," Yun said. "Though home prices are rising much faster than rents, historically low mortgage rates are still making home purchases affordable."

The average interest rate on a 30-year, fixed rate mortgage fell to 3.54 percent during the past week, according to federally backed mortgage bundler Freddie Mac.

In Northwest Indiana, median selling prices have not surged as they have nationally. The median Northwest Indiana selling price of $109,950 in February represented a 1.8 percent drop from one year ago.

In Porter County, 112 homes were sold in February, a 4.7 percent increase as compared to the year-ago month. The median selling price of a home was $157,000, which is 7.4 percent less than the median selling price one year ago.

In Lake County, 328 homes were sold in February, a 29.6 percent increase as compared to February 2012. The median selling price was $100,501, representing a 4.3 percent drop from one year ago.

The Greater Northwest Indiana Association of Realtors collects data on home sales in Lake, Porter, LaPorte, Jasper and Newton counties.

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