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NWI housing market has strong January

Realtor consultant Joe McCormick locks front door after showing three-bedroom ranch house potential buyers County Line Road Hobart Ind. Tuesday

Realtor consultant Joe McCormick locks the front door after showing a three-bedroom ranch house to potential buyers on County Line Road in Hobart, Ind. Tuesday February 26, 2013. | Stephanie Dowell~Sun-Times Media

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Updated: March 28, 2013 6:43AM



The five counties that comprise Northwest Indiana have collectively seen 19 consecutive months of year-over-year growth in the housing market, painting a positive picture of where the market is headed.

“We’re seeing good signs in the number of units sold, and the median selling price has seen 14 months of improvement. These are positive signs,” said Pete Novak, chief executive officer of Greater Northwest Indiana Association of Realtors.

Betty Daniel-Lanie, 2013 president of GNIAR and owner of County-Wide Properties in LaPorte, said the first two months of this year have been a marked improvement over this time last year.

The five counties included in the January real estate statistics report for Northwest Indiana are Lake, Porter, LaPorte, Jasper and Newton.

In Lake County alone, 310 homes were sold in January 2013, compared to 246 the previous January, a 26 percent jump, according to GNIAR. Median housing prices jumped 23.6 percent, from $97,500 in January 2012 to $120,000 last month.

In Porter County, houses sold were up 14.6 percent, from 89 to 102, while housing prices picked up by a 6.6 percent margin, from $150,000 to $159,950.

The state as a whole is showing signs of improvement as well, according to the Indiana Real Estate Markets Report released Monday.

According to that report: the number of closed home sales statewide has increased year-over-year for 19 consecutive months; the median sale price of homes has increased for 14 consecutive months; the average sale price has increased for 13 consecutive months; sellers received a greater share of their original list price for the 11th consecutive month, and the number of pending home sales has increased for 16 consecutive months.

Novak said while the majority of houses sold in Northwest Indiana are in the $100,000 price range, the greatest growth now is in the higher-priced homes, from $200,000 and up.

“That tells us we’re getting more move-up buyers back in the market. People in the lower price range have a reason to buy, such as they had a baby and need more space. But those looking in the higher price points are doing it because they have confidence in the economy,” Novak said.

Daniel-Lanie said she is seeing is a mix of buyers in the market, including investors in the repossession market and first-time home buyers taking advantage of good rates and first-time buyer options.

Neither the state nor local realty groups track foreclosures and short sales, but Daniel-Lanie said there are still a number of both on the market. Still, she said these houses are not depressing the market to a great degree.

“A lot of times people moving up buy a repossessed Fannie Mae home. It’s in good condition and they get a better price,” she said.

Stacey Hartman, spokeswoman with the Indiana Association of Realtors, said the association suspects foreclosure activity is down across the state since prices are increasing.

She said RealtyTrac reported nationwide foreclosure starts were down 11 percent from December to January and down 28 percent from January 2012. However, the real estate tracking firm also reported Indiana still ranks ninth among the nation’s 10 highest foreclosure rates, Hartman said.



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