Northwest Indiana single-family home sales increased 16.7 percent in September as compared to one year ago, marking the 27th straight month of sales increases in the region, according to the Greater Northwest Indiana Association of Realtors.
The median selling price of a home increased 5.7 percent, a sign the nationwide trend of increasing home prices may finally begin to catch hold in the region.
A number of factors are starting to push region home prices upward, including limited supply in some price ranges and sellers once again undertaking significant upgrades before putting homes on the market, said Matt Evans, a Realtor with Re/Max Pace Realty, in Valparaiso.
"It's become a challenge to some buyers to find exactly what they want," Evans said. "It starts to become a little bit of a sellers market."
Nationally, single-family home sales decreased 1.5 percent as compared to the month before, but increased 10.9 percent as compared to September of 2012. The national median single-family home price was $199,300 in September, which is 11.4 percent higher than a year ago.
In August, existing home sales hit their highest level in nearly four years.
National Association of Realtors Chief Economist Lawrence Yun said a pause was expected, as rising home prices and interest rates decreased home affordability.
“Affordability has fallen to a five-year low as home-price increases easily outpaced income growth,” Yun said. “Expected rising mortgage interest rates will further lower affordability in upcoming months."
The average interest rate for a 30-year conventional home mortgage hit 4.49 percent in September, according to a survey by Freddie Mac, the federally backed bundler of home mortgages. One year ago, the average interest rate on a 30-year conventional mortgage was 3.47 percent.
Those interest rates still remain lower by historical standards and have yet to effect demand locally, Evans said.
In fact, the past year has seen a resurgence in sales of higher-priced homes, including those in the $300,000 to $400,000 range, Evans said.
Home sales increased 32.9 percent in Porter County in September, with the median selling price of a home increasing 1.6 percent to $172,750, according to sales data from the Greater Northwest Indiana Association of Realtors.
In Lake County, home sales increased 10.5 percent in September, with the median selling price up a strong 4 percent.
The Greater Northwest Indiana Association of Realtors covers home sales in Lake, Porter, LaPorte, Newton and Jasper counties.