Realtors: NWI housing market looking good
By Christin Nance Lazerus email@example.com November 3, 2012 6:10PM
Realtor Nathan Reeder holds the door as a family has a second showing of Reeder's listing in Hammond Friday evening. | Jeffrey D. Nicholls~Sun-Times Media
Updated: December 5, 2012 6:06AM
Single-family home sales were up 12 percent in September in Northwest Indiana compared to the same month in 2011.
In Lake County, home sales increased 23.3 percent compared to 2011, while Porter County saw a 5 percent drop compared to last year.
Sales numbers were down compared to the previous month, with home sales dropping 10.9 percent and 17.4 percent in Lake and Porter counties, respectively.
But Greater Northwest Indiana Association of Realtors CEO Peter Novak said much of that drop has to do with the fact that most home buyers try to time their purchase with the school calendar.
“Our high tends to be in the summer time, when people tend to purchase after school lets out or before kids go back to school,” Novak said. “We’re obviously excited about the year over year comparison — September 2012 to September 2011 — since it takes seasonality out of the equation.”
Nationally, sales of existing homes in the U.S. dipped 1.7 percent from August, but home sales are still up 11 percent from a year earlier. At 4.75 million, they remain below the more than 5.5 million that economists consider consistent with a healthy market.
The Northwest Indiana housing market has seen a steady increase in home sales since July 2011, as the economy shows signs of improving. Prices are starting to rebound, which gives Realtors hope that foreclosures and distressed properties comprise a smaller portion of the market. Novak said Realtors are still debating whether the trend will continue or if it’s an anomaly.
“Some say there’s this shadow inventory that has yet to hit the argument,” Novak said. “I keep hearing about the glut of foreclosures and not seeing it.”
A recent report from data provider CoreLogic showed that the so-called “shadow” inventory of homes fell 10 percent in July compared with a year ago.
Brenda Miley, a Realtor at McColly Real Estate, said if homes are priced right they don’t languish on the market and typically see multiple offers.
“I’ve had two listings in the past couple months, and it’s been amazing,” Miley said. “We’re back to the climate of getting multiple offers on properties, the excitement level is up, and the number of buyers that just can’t wait to buy now. The fear has gone down on buying and selling.”
Miley said sellers are seeing that home prices are starting to increase, while buyers are seeing that financing is easing up a bit and interest rates are at record lows.
Nathan Reeder of Reeder Companies said summer was the busiest season he’s had in five years.
“When I first started the market was starting to get bad,” Reeder said. “This was the busiest summer I’ve had. If a home is priced appropriately and in good condition it should sell in 30 to 60 days.”
A low supply of previously occupied homes has also given a boost to the new-home market.
Builders broke ground on homes and apartments at the fastest pace in more than four years in September. The jump could help boost the economy and hiring.
Steiner Homes owner Dan Steiner said he’s sold around 33 homes this year, compared to somewhere in the low 20s in 2011.
Steiner said there are several reasons for the healthy increase, including Illinois residents who are looking toward Indiana due to lower home prices and taxes.
“Everything’s lower here,” Steiner said. “You get more house. We’ve seen a steady increase for about a year and four months. People feel more secure about where they’re at and interest rates have been phenomenal.”
Steiner said customers prefer areas west of Indianapolis Boulevard, but since there aren’t a lot of undeveloped properties in the west, he’s showing customers land in St. John and Crown Point.
“Most of our customers are coming to Crown Point since it’s a great community with a school system and there are nice, new lots.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.