Real Estate is Back to Business

2013-05-25T00:00:00Z Real Estate is Back to BusinessMichelle Krueger nwitimes.com
May 25, 2013 12:00 am  • 

On the heels of a first quarter built on positive momentum, April real estate numbers bring more good news for housing. Throughout the state of Indiana, home prices and market activity improved from the same month of last year, according to the Indiana Real Estate Markets Report released by the state’s REALTORS®.

“There’s definitely a frenzy out there right now,” Herm Hoge, broker/owner along with his wife Kris of RE/MAX Realty Associates in Munster, said. “We have 35 professional agents in this office who go to work in real estate every day. They were able to remain busy during the market downturn, and we had an especially good year last year. But, what we’re seeing right now is the domino effect, and we haven’t seen that in a long time.”

Demonstrating how low interest rates continue to lure buyers into the market, here are a few highlights comparing April 2013 to April 2012 in Indiana:

• The number of closed home sales increased 18 percent to 6,569.

• The median sale price of those homes increased 2.6 percent to $119,000.

• The average sale price increased three percent to $141,697.

• The percent or original list price received increased 1.4 percent to 92 percent.

• The number of pending home sales increased 21.3 percent to 7,402.

• The number of new listings increased 6.9 percent to 12,117.

In addition, April marked the following consecutive year-over-year gains in home prices and market activity:

• The number of closed home sales has increased year-over-year for 22 consecutive months.

• The median sale price of homes has increased for 17 consecutive months.

• The average sale price has increased for 16 consecutive months.

• Sellers received a greater share of their original list price for the 14th consecutive month.

• The number of pending home sales has increased for 19 consecutive months.

“Kris and I are personally working with a couple in Schererville with the intent to move up from their current house that’s in the $150s to something in the $250-$300 range,” Hoge added explaining the domino effect. “They’re a young couple with two kids. They’ve basically outgrown their starter home and believe now is the right time to buy that dream home while interest rates are low and houses are still affordable. They understand how unique this opportunity is for them right now. We’re also seeing more people who have been sitting on their larger homes waiting for the right time to downsize ready to make that move into something more manageable for their retirement years. Of course first-time buyers still see how buying definitely makes more sense than renting as long as interest rates remain so low.”

The Greater Northwest Indiana Association of REALTORS®, which tracks residential property sales (single-family, condominium, townhome and paired) in Lake, Porter, LaPorte, Newton and Jasper counties also reports increases for 22 consecutive months.

“There’s no doubt that houses still need to be priced right relative to their condition,” Hoge explained. “A lot of buyers in the market today are looking for a home that’s turnkey, so staging and undertaking a few strategic upgrades can be important for sellers looking to get top dollar. Illinois buyers are certainly driving our market right now. Moving to northwest Indiana offers a number of advantages. – affordability with significantly lower real estate taxes, a better quality of life and great schools.”

Year-over-year growth for all five counties combined reached 26 percent in April, with single-family home sales accelerating 23 percent in Lake County and 31.4 percent in Porter County. In the last month, selling prices have edged up 10.6 percent in all five counties, with Lake County seeing prices rise 13.6 percent and Porter County prices are up 8.4 percent.

That breaks down to a total of 766 homes sold in all five counties for April 2013 compared with 741 in March of 2013 and 608 in April 2012. In Lake County a total of 438 homes sold in April 2013 versus 416 in March 2013 and 356 in April 2012, and in Porter County a total of 184 homes sold in April 2013 versus 164 March 2013 and 140 in April 2012.

Those numbers are beginning to look more like what the industry was posting back in 2007, when GNIAR reports showed monthly sales averaged 838 homes.

With so many positives in the market right now, inventory is a big concern for local REALTORS®. While the number of new listings is generally on the rise, it’s still not enough to keep up with buyer demand. Low inventory has created a very competitive environment. Buyers are disappointed to learn that their offers – many of which have been at or near asking price – are not enough to win over sellers who once again hold the advantage in multiple offer situations. Plus, even as builders are ramping up the construction of new homes throughout northwest Indiana, they are having a tough time keeping up with the demand for homes that are move-in ready or nearly complete.

“Most of all, it’s refreshing to see consumer confidence return,” Hoge said. “People are coming into the office with the attitude that ‘I want to do this and get it done now.’ Before it was more ‘I’m not really sure what to do.’ People know interest rates will not stay this low forever, and they want to make a move.”

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