More homes sold for higher prices
A sign shows a home for sale in Portage earlier this year. Existing single-family home sales were up 11.6 percent during the month, with 740 sold in the five counties of Lake, Porter, LaPorte, Jasper and Newton, according to the Greater Northwest Indiana Association of Realtors. (Photograph by John L. Hendricks/Times File Photo.)
Buyers powered home sales to some of their best gains of the year in October in Northwest Indiana, driven by the first-time homebuyer tax credit and historically low interest rates.
Existing single-family home sales were up 11.6 percent during the month, with 740 sold in the five counties of Lake, Porter, LaPorte, Jasper and Newton, according to the Greater Northwest Indiana Association of Realtors. And the median sales price of $130,000 marked a 4.1 percent increase over the median price at this time last year.
“The last three months, everything has been up—and substantially up,” said Bill McCabe, owner of Century 21 Executive Realty, in Schererville.
In June, year-over-year home sales showed their first increase of the year, with 1.4 percent more homes sold than in June of 2008. But that was one of the only months to see a year-over-year increase.
The first-time homebuyer tax credit has been a big factor in the current surge and will continue to drive home sales into spring, McCabe said.
NWI home sales zip upward
Lake County existing single-family home sales
October 2009: 440
October 2008: 393
Change: up 12 percent
Porter County existing single-family home sales
October 2009: 159
October 2008: 128
Change: up 24.2 percent
Source: Greater Northwest Indiana Association of Realtors
The credit was slated to expire at the end of this month, but the U.S. Congress extended it into spring and has also added a tax credit for existing homeowners buying a new home.
The inventory of unsold homes in Northwest Indiana has been shrinking in the past few months, which should stem price declines and keep prices stable into the foreseeable future.
The inventory of homes for sale has dropped to under a 10-month supply in both Lake and Porter counties, after going as high as 12 months in Lake County and almost 14 months in Porter County in May, McCabe said.
National home sales also surged upward in October, reaching their highest level since February 2007, according to the National Association of Realtors.
Existing single-family home sales were up 9.7 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.33 million in October from a pace of 4.86 million the month before, according to the National Association of Realtors. The October sales were 21.4 percent above sales one year ago.
“Many buyers have been rushing to beat the deadline for the first-time buyer tax credit that was scheduled to expire at the end of this month, and similarly robust sales may be occurring in November,” said National Association of Realtors chief economist Lawrence Yun.
Home sales are expected to decline in December and early next year before rebounding in spring and early summer, Yun said.
Locally, the surge in home sales was strong in Porter County, where 159 homes were sold in October for a 24.2 percent increase over sales at the same time last year, according to the Greater Northwest Indiana Association of Realtors. The median selling price of $167,000 was 3.2 percent higher than the median at the same time last year.
In Lake County, 440 homes were sold in October, representing a 12 percent increase over sales last year. The median selling price was $127,000, representing a 10.6 percent increase as compared to last year.
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