Home sales off to fast start this year

2014-03-16T00:00:00Z 2014-03-16T00:56:08Z Home sales off to fast start this yearRob Earnshaw Times Correspondent nwitimes.com
March 16, 2014 12:00 am  • 

The Greater Northwest Indiana Association of Realtors reported 2013 as being “a great year” for real estate with a 19 percent increase in units sold from 2012.

Peter Novak, GNIAR executive director, says that number was about 10 percent nationally.

Prices rose as well, with the median selling price 1.9 percent higher than the previous year. December also marked the 30th consecutive month the GNIAR reported growth in a year-over-year comparison.

Although Novak said the National Association of Realtor's economist is projecting sales will be similar this year, he doesn’t know if the group will see major growth like 2013.

Novak said a positive national and local trend is the number of foreclosures and short sales are decreasing. Nationally in 2010, about 40 percent of transactions were distressed sales. In 2014, it’s projected to be only 8 percent.

Melissa Osika, a Realtor with Coldwell Banker in Valparaiso, evenly divides her business between Lake and Porter counties and between buyers and sellers. The first three months of last year she referred all her business out because of a family illness. She ended up with about 30 closed transactions in 2013 while in 2012 she had 37.

"For not doing business for three months — if I look at it that way my business was better than the year before,” she says.

Osika says this year started with the busiest January she’s ever had.

“There is a lot of buyer activity right now in Lake and Porter counties,” she says.

Osika says a lot of her clients are first-time homebuyers who were either longtime renters or young couples who finally have their down payment money saved or have their credit where it needs to be and their family is growing.

She said at the end of December and the first part of January people were scared of how the Affordable Health Care Act was going to affect their monthly finances.

“There was a lot of uncertainty then, but I think people have sort of figured out how it’s going to affect them by now and they’re ready to move forward,” she says “And interest rates are still really good. I really foresee it to be a busy year and not just for me.”

Minakshi Ghuman, a Realtor with ReMax Pace Realty in Valparaiso, says “things are happening” in real estate.

“I really feel it’s not just something we are imagining,” she says. “It’s real. Overall it’s extremely busy and extremely positive.”

Ghuman says there has been a positive mindset among buyers and sellers. From the sellers point of view in some cases, there was a shortage of listings in certain price ranges and they were feeling good about getting plenty of showings. At the same time buyers were getting good rates.

“I had at least a couple of cases where sellers were being very reasonable in the sense that even though they might not get for their house what they might get if they held on longer — what they might lose on their house they would make up in buying because they would be getting such a good deal,” she says.

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