Sales of existing homes in Northwest Indiana jumped more than 13 percent in August compared to a year ago, while nationally sales were nearly even as supply remained tight and prices rose.
The seven-county area represented by the Greater Northwest Indiana Association of Realtors saw 1,130 sales in August, up from 997 in August 2015. For the year, the area has seen growth of 9.4 percent, to 7,248 homes, according to GNIAR.
The association’s membership includes Realtors in Lake, Porter, LaPorte, Jasper, Newton, Starke and Pulaski counties. Sales were up in each of the three largest counties — by 11.5 percent in Lake, 21 percent in Porter and 1.6 percent in LaPorte.
Prices moderated locally, with the median up 1 percent from a year ago, to $149,000. For the year to date, they’re up 5.1 percent.
Sales nationally dropped almost 1 percent in August from July, and were up nearly 1 percent compared to August 2014. The median price was up 5.1 percent in August over the same month a year ago, according to the National Association of Realtors, to $240,200.
The NAR’s chief economist, Lawrence Yun, said healthy labor markets and low mortgage rates should create growth in sales, “however, there’s no question that after peaking in June, sales in a majority of the country have inched backwards because inventory isn’t picking up to tame price growth and replace what’s being quickly sold.”
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According to Freddie Mac, the average commitment rate for a 30-year, conventional, fixed-rate mortgage was 3.44 percent in August. That was the second consecutive month rates were at that level, the lowest rate since January 2013, when the average was 3.41 percent.
The NAR has expressed concern all year about the tight supply.
“It’s very concerning to see that inventory conditions not only show no signs of improving but have actually worsened in recent months from their already suppressed levels a year ago,” Yun said.
But in a recent survey, Realtors continued to express optimism about growth and profitability.
“For a second year in a row, a majority of real estate firms have a positive outlook on profitability, with 91 percent of all firms expecting their net income to increase or remain the same over the next year,” said NAR President Tom Salomone, referring to the organization’s 2016 Profile of Real Estate Firms.
“Although there is an overwhelmingly positive outlook, low inventory and high prices have led to an overall decrease in real estate firm’s sales volume since last year’s report,” he said. “High home prices are holding back first-time buyers and low inventory means fewer sales at a time of increased Realtor membership.”