NWI homes sales plug along in early going

2014-05-22T17:30:00Z 2014-05-23T11:50:05Z NWI homes sales plug along in early goingBy Keith Benman keith.benman@nwi.com, (219) 933-3326 nwitimes.com

Single-family home sales in Northwest Indiana in April dropped for the fourth straight month this year, marking a slow start to 2014 after strong sales in 2013.

Realtors closed sales on 669 homes in April, as compared to 746 in April 2013, which is a 10.3 percent drop, according to sales data collected by the Greater Northwest Indiana Association of Realtors in five counties.

At least some of the decline in sales appears to be driven by a lack of supply in some markets, according to Matt Evans, a Realtor with ReMax Pace Realty, in Valparaiso.

"We think part of that is just due to the extreme weather, where people hesitated to put their homes on the market," Evans said.

Realtors continue to see multiple offers on some homes in high-demand areas, as well as people opting to build after not finding what they want when shopping among existing homes, he said.

Nationally, single-family home sales dropped 7.7 percent in April as compared to the year-ago month, according to the National Association of Realtors. However, an uptick in the month-to-month numbers had association chief economist Lawrence Yun predicting a general upward trend for the rest of the year.

“We’ll continue to see a balancing act between housing inventory and price growth, which remains stronger than normal simply because there have not been enough sellers in many areas," Yun said. "More inventory and increased new-home construction will help to foster healthy market conditions."

Yun is forecasting the slow start to the year will keep total home sales in 2014 from matching last year's performance, which was the best since the start of the housing crisis seven years ago.

Homes sales also rebounded strongly in Northwest Indiana in 2013, with sales in the five counties up 18.9 percent for their best year since 2007. That rate of increase was more than double the increase for home sales nationally in 2013.

The biggest question facing home sales the rest of this year will be whether enough homes will come on the market to satisfy demand, according to Carol Dobrzynski, a Realtor with ReMax Realty Associates, in Munster.

Demand is particularly strong in moderately-priced communities such as Highland, with homes available for under $150,000.

"People who had their home on the market before and it didn't sell, they should really consider putting their home up for sale again," she said.

In April, the median selling price of a home in Northwest Indiana declined to $129,900 from $135,000 in April 2013, for a 3.8 percent overall decrease, according to Greater Northwest Indiana Association of Realtor figures.

In Lake County, single-family home sales in April were down 7.5 percent, according to the Greater Northwest Indiana Association of Realtors. The median selling price of a home was $119,900, a drop of 3.1 percent.

In Porter County, single-family home sales were down 17.9 percent in April. The median selling price was $155,000, a decline of 11.3 percent from April 2013.

The Greater Northwest Indiana Association of Realtors tracks sales in Lake, Porter, LaPorte, Newton and Jasper counties.

Early this month, a merger between the Greater Northwest Indiana Association of Realtors and the Starke-Pulaski Board of Realtors was approved by regulators. GNIAR plans to soon include sales figures for Starke and Pulaski counties in its monthly sales reports.

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