Homes sales in Northwest Indiana increased almost 21 percent in August, the largest increase in sales on a year-over-year basis yet this year, according to sales numbers from the Greater Northwest Indiana Association of Realtors.
The 818 existing single-family homes sold in August, and increases in every previous month, have put sales in the five-county area on track for their first yearly increase since 2006.
"At the very least there is curiosity out there among buyers," said Pete Novak, executive director of the Greater Northwest Indiana Association of Realtors. "And it's more than just curiosity because they are actually going out to look at the homes."
Home showings are up 50 percent this summer compared with last year, Novak said. Through August, home sales are up 11.8 percent over last year.
Interest rates at historic lows are inspiring buyers, along with increased confidence in the economy, according to Novak and local Realtors.
"Right now, interest rates are very important to buyers," said Carol Dobrzynski, a Realtor with ReMax Realty Associates in Munster. "To buyers, the lower interest rate calculates into more house they can buy."
Multiple offers on a single property are no longer a rare occurrence and some homes in top-notch condition are selling in as little as a week, she said.
Nationally, existing-single family home sales rose 10 percent in August, as compared to sales in August 2011, according to the National Association of Realtors. The median sales price was 10.2 percent above a year ago.
"The housing market is steadily recovering with consistent increases in both home sales and median prices," said National Association of Realtors Chief Economist Lawrence Yun. "More buyers are taking advantage of excellent housing affordability conditions."
The interest rate on a 30-year, conventional, fixed-rate mortgage was 3.60 percent in August, just a tad up from a record low 3.55 percent in July, according to data from Freddie Mac's weekly survey.
No one is looking for home sales to return anytime soon to pre-crash levels, Novak said. But if this year fulfills its promise, it should increase confidence.
Last year, 6,881 homes total were sold over all 12 months in the five counties, which was level with 2010 sales of 6,873 homes. At the height of the housing boom in 2006, 11,349 homes were sold in the five counties.
The Greater Northwest Indiana Association of Realtors covers home sales in Lake, Porter, LaPorte, Newton and Jasper counties.