EVANSVILLE —The sun is shining on the Tri-State housing market.
Anita Louthan, president of the Southwestern Indiana Association of Realtors and a broker associate with F.C. Tucker Emge Realty, reports single family home sales in Vanderburgh, Warrick, Posey and Gibson counties increased by 17.5 percent last month, compared to sales in January 2011.
She said 181 home sales closed this January, compared to 154 January 2011.
The overall volume and contributions to the area economy from the boost jumped from a little more than $20 million to a little more than $22 million in the four-county area.
The Realtors association uses figures compiled by the Broker Listing Cooperative, or BLC (formerly MLS, Multiple Listing Service).
The association covers 10 counties, including Perry, Spencer, Dubois, Daviess, Martin and Pike as well as Vanderburgh, Warrick, Posey and Gibson. In those 10, sales rose by 10.4 percent, Louthan said.
A total of 244 homes sold this past January in the 10 counties, compared to 221 homes in January 2011. The overall volume and contribution to the area's economy increased from $26.5 million to $28.5 million.
The report follows the BLC's recent good news that single family home sales in the 10-county area during the last six months of 2011 improved by 9.2 percent, compared to sales in the same months in 2010.
Mike Hawa and his fiancee, Alicia Ricklefs, helped boost the sales last month with the purchase of their first home.
Hawa, a nurse in St. Mary's Medical Center's Cardiovascular Intensive Care Unit/Open Heart Recovery, and Ricklefs, a nurse in the hospitals Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, closed this past January on a two-story, three-bedroom brick home in Newburgh's Kingston Subdivision.
Hawa said they toured about 20 houses — all in Newburgh — since starting their search last October.
"We started out shooting lower (in price) than we ended up targeting, which may not be the normal pattern. But, we were being conservative at first," Hawa said.
"We ended up exactly where we wanted to be."
Hawa said the ordeal was stressful and aggravating at times, but they persevered and are now glad they did.
The couple, planning to marry July 21 at St. Boniface Catholic Church, relied heavily on advice from their parents, their Realtor, Jim Attebury with F.C. Tucker Emge, and Fifth Third Bank loan officer Susan Bacon, Hawa said.
"Alicia and I look forward to becoming a family with kids. We view our new home as a great financial investment.
"It is a buyer's market. You can get some pretty decent deals on very nice homes," Hawa said.
He declined to reveal the price on their home, built in 1997 and equipped with hardwood floors and a privacy fence, among other amenities.
Louthan said single family homes sold in Vanderburgh, Warrick, Posey and Gibson counties increased from $20,054,512 in January 2011 to $22,010,251 in January 2012.
Statewide, according to the Indiana Real Estate Markets Report, the sales figures, when comparing January 2012 to January 2011, also are strong:
The number of closed home sales increased 13.9 percent to 3,458.
The number of pending home sales increased 17.7 percent to 4,226.
The median sale price of homes increased 1 percent to $101,000.
The average sale price of homes increased 0.2 percent to $122,209.
Members have reported being genuinely busy since the beginning of the year, and the numbers prove it," said the Indiana Association of Realtors CEO Karl Berron.
"It goes without saying that Hoosiers must be working and confident in their prolonged employment for the statewide housing market to see major growth," said Berron. "Two other factors impacting the market are strict mortgage lending standards and price pressures brought on by foreclosures."