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A drop in home sales in Porter County in April led to a year-over-year decline in Northwest Indiana, with total existing home sales of 898 in the seven-county area.

That's down 1.9 percent from last April's 915 sales, according to statistics from the Greater Northwest Indiana Association of Realtors.

Porter County's decline was 17.5 percent, to 198. The sharp drop was from a particularly strong April 2016, when the county saw 240 sales.

GNIAR includes Lake, Porter, LaPorte, Newton, Jasper, Starke and Pulaski counties.

Lake County saw 7.1 percent year-over-year growth in April to 529 homes sold. The median price was nearly even at $144,900. Porter County's median price was up 1.4 percent to $178,389.

LaPorte County saw sales decline 3.7 percent, to 105 from last year's 109. The median price there was $125,000, up 14.7 percent from last April's $109,000.

The 898 sales throughout Northwest Indiana had a median price of $150,000, up 3.4 percent from April 2016's $145,000.

The year continues to be positive despite April's slip. Through last month, sales in the GNIAR region are up 2.5 percent, to 2,944, with a median price of $144,000. That's up 2.9 percent from the first four months of 2016.

Nationally, sales of 5.57 million homes represented a 1.6 percent increase from a year ago, according to the National Association of Realtors. But inventory remains a concern for NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun.

"Demand is easily outstripping supply in most of the country and it's stymieing many prospective buyers from finding a home to purchase," Yun said. He noted that the number of days homes remain on the market is down to a low of 29 days.

While that might be good for sellers, "new and existing inventory is not keeping up with the fast pace homes are coming off the market," Yun said.

Mortgage rates have remained steady in recent months, declining in April to 4.05 percent — the first decline in six months for 30-year, conventional fixed-rate mortgages, according to mortgage bundler Freddie Mac.

The NAR also reported:

Total inventory for was 1.93 million, 9 percent lower than a year ago.

First-time buyers made 34 percent of purchases in April, up from 32 percent a year ago.

All-cash sales made up 21 percent of transactions in April, down from 24 percent a year ago.

Distressed sales — foreclosures and short sales — were 5 percent of April sales, down from 7 percent a year ago.


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.