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Home sales up in May, but buyers face sharply rising prices

A sign advertises an existing home for sale in Roswell, Ga. On Wednesday. Sales were up slightly locally and nationally in May.

AP Photo/John Bazemore

Sales of existing homes in Northwest Indiana ticked up very slightly in May, to 1,071, while the median price continued a significant rise, increasing 13.2 percent to $163,000.

Only two more sales were closed in May as compared to a year ago, representing a 0.2 percent increase, according to figures from the Greater Northwest Indiana Association of Realtors Multiple Listing Service. 

"Demand is still high; inventory is still low," said GNIAR CEO Peter Novak. "You're seeing greater competition of homes for sale."

Novak said there were about 16 percent fewer homes for sale in May as compared to May 2016. Homes are selling faster, and sellers are getting a higher percentage of their initial asking price, he said.

Buyers are "moving quickly and they're moving competitively," Novak said.

For the year through May, sales are up 2 percent to 4,020 and the median price up 6.1 percent to $150,000 in Lake, Porter, LaPorte, Jasper, Newton, Starke and Pulaski counties.

In Lake County, year-over-year sales were up 1.3 percent to 622. The median price rose 17.2 percent to $164,049. Porter County sales were even at 248, while the median price there bucked the trend and fell 3 percent to $182,361. LaPorte County saw sales dip 12.1 percent to 116, while the median price was up slightly to 0.8 percent.

National statistics for May were similar to Northwest Indiana's. The National Association of Realtors reported sales of 5.62 million homes in May, up 2.7 percent fro a year ago. The median price was $252,800, up 5.8 percent from May 2016, marking the 63rd straight month of year-over-year gains.

The inventory of homes for sale rose 2.1 percent, but is 8.4 percent lower than a year ago, according to the NAR.

"Those able to close on a home last month are probably feeling both happy and relieved," the association's chief economist, Lawrence Yun, said, noting the low inventory and competitive nature of the market.

"Home prices keep chugging along at a pace that is not sustainable in the long run," Yun said. "Current demand levels indicate sales should be stronger, but it's clear some would-be buyers are having to delay or postpone their home search because low supply is leading to worsening affordability conditions."

The NAR also reported:

• Properties were typically on the market 27 days in May, down from 32 a year ago.

• First-time buyers made up 33 percent of home buyers in May, up from 30 percent a year ago.

• The average commitment rate for a 30-year, conventional fixed-rate mortgage was 4.01 percent in May, according to Freddie Mac, down from 4.05 percent in April.


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.