NWI home sales fall for second straight month

2014-03-20T16:00:00Z 2014-03-20T17:57:18Z NWI home sales fall for second straight monthBy Keith Benman keith.benman@nwi.com, (219) 933-3326 nwitimes.com

Single-family home sales in Northwest Indiana fell 10 percent in February as compared to February 2013, marking the second month in a row home sales have fallen after 30 straight months of increases.

The median selling price of a home in the region increased to $113,000 in February, which is a 2.8 percent increase as compared to a year ago, according to sales data from the Greater Northwest Indiana Association of Realtors.

February's snow storms and frigid temps discouraged buyers and in some cases sellers, according to Carol Dobrzynski, of ReMax Realty Associates in Munster. She had a number of clients who told her they would wait until the weather breaks to put their homes on the market.

"We were seeing hesitation on both sides," Dobrzynski said.

However, there are currently few other headwinds for buyers locally, and Dobrzynski expects sales to pick up as the weather warms.

"I'm very optimistic," she said. "I think it will be a very good year. I think it will be just as strong as last year, maybe even better."

Nationally, single-family home sales were down 6.9 percent in February as compared to February 2013, according to the National Association of Realtors. The median selling price increased to $189,200 in February, which is a 9 percent jump from one year ago.

National Association of Realtors Chief Economist Lawrence Yun attributed much of the drop to the unusually severe winter weather in many parts of the nation, as well as factors like restrictive mortgage lending standards.

“Some transactions are simply being delayed, so there should be some improvement in the months ahead," Yun said. "With an expected pickup in job creation, home sales should trend up modestly over the course of the year.”

In Northwest Indiana, beginning in July 2011, single-family home sales increased every month on a year-over-basis through December 2013. In January, sales dropped 5.8 percent, finally breaking the string of sales increases.

Interest rates began to inch up last year, but are still at historically low levels. The interest rate on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 4.32 percent this week as compared to 4.37 percent last week, according a weekly survey by Freddie Mac. Last year at this time the interest rate averaged 3.54 percent.

In Lake County, single-family home sales dropped 14.9 percent in February as compared to the year ago month, according to the Greater Northwest Indiana Association of Realtors. The median selling price increased to $112,500, which is 11.9 percent higher than it was a year ago.

In Porter County, single-family home sales dropped 3.6 percent in February. The median selling price dropped to $155,000, which is a 1.3 percent drop as compared to one year ago.

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