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A "For Sale" sign is displayed outside a home on the market in the north Denver suburb of Thornton, Colorado. The sale of existing homes grew nationally and locally in November.

Sales of existing homes in Northwest Indiana rose modestly in November, keeping 2018 on track for growth with one month's results left to be tallied.

A total of 856 homes were sold in the seven county's represented by the Greater Northwest Indiana Association of Realtors, the association reported. That was 2.5 percent more than November 2017.

The median selling price continued its rise, up to $160,500, a 3.5 percent increase from a year ago.

GNIAR membership includes Realtors in Lake, Porter, LaPorte, Jasper, Newton, Starke and Pulaski counties. For 2018 through November, 10,139 sales had closed in the seven counties, a 2.1 percent increase from the first 11 months of 2017. The median price rose 7.1 percent during that time, to $164,000.

Lake County sales totaled 479, down 1.4 percent, with a median price of $157,500, up 2 percent. Porter County recorded a robust increase in sales, up 6.9 percent to 185, with a big jump in median price of 26.4 percent, to $220,000. In LaPorte County, sales rose 4.8 percent to 110, with the median price falling by 16.5 percent to $119,450.

Nationally, sales remain down significantly year-over-year, off 7 percent at an annualized rate from a year ago, to 5.32 million, according to the National Association of Realtors. The median price of $257,700 was 4.2 percent above November 2017.

NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun said the west region was an area of concern, with lower sales and soft price growth. But he said two consecutive months of month-to-month growth are a welcome sign.

"The market conditions in November were mixed, with good signs of stabilizing home sales compared to recent months, though down significantly from one year ago," Yun said. "Rising inventory is clearly taming home price appreciation."

The NAR also reported:

• Total housing inventory for sale at the end of November decreased to 1.74 million from 1.85 million at the end of October.

• Properties sold in November were on the market an average of 42 days, up from 36 in October.

• The average commitment rate for a 30-year, conventional, fixed rate mortgage increased to 4.87 percent in November, up from 4.83 percent in October, and from a yearly average of 3.99 percent in 2017.

• First-time home buyers made up 33 percent of the market in November, up from 29 percent the same month a year ago.

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Transportation Reporter

Andrew covers transportation, real estate, casinos and other topics for The Times business section. A Crown Point native, he joined The Times in 2014, and has more than 15 years experience as a reporter and editor at Region newspapers.