Existing single-family home sales in Northwest Indiana increased 9.9 percent in March, marking the ninth month in a row sales have notched a year-over-year increase, according to the Greater Northwest Indiana Association of Realtors.
Home prices also realized their largest increase of the year, with the median selling price of a home rising 7.3 percent in March as compared to March of 2011, according to association sales figures.
That new-found stability in home prices has been a key factor in luring buyers back to the market, according to Matt Evans, a Realtor with RE/MAX Affiliates in Valparaiso.
"Everyone is sensing the value in real estate is back," Evans said. "They don't want to buy something just to see it decrease in price."
Record low interest rates, continued improvement in the economy and the unseasonably warm spring all brought out buyers in March, Evans said.
Nationally, sales of existing single family homes in March increased 5.9 percent above their pace one year ago, according to the National Association of Realtors. However, March sales declined 2.5 percent from those in February.
"Existing-home sales are moving up and down in a fairly narrow range that is well above the level of activity during the first half of last year, said National Association of Realtors Chief Economist Lawrence Yun. "With job growth, low interest rates, bargain home prices and an improving economy, the pent-up demand is coming to market and we expect housing to be notably better this year."
Through the first three months of the year, existing single-family home sales in Northwest Indiana increased 9.7 percent, putting the region on track for its first significant year-to-year uptick in home sales since 2006, according to Greater Northwest Indiana Association of Realtors figures.
The Greater Northwest Indiana Association of Realtors represents Realtors in Lake, Porter, LaPorte, Jasper and Newton counties.
The interest rate on a fixed-rate, 30-year conventional home loan ranged from a low of 3.88 percent in March to a high of 4.08 percent, according to Freddie Mac's weekly mortgage survey. The U.S. unemployment rate dropped to 8.2 percent from 8.3 percent the month before, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. One year before, the unemployment rate stood at 8.9 percent.
In Lake County, 343 single-family homes were sold in March, a 12.5 percent increase compared to the 305 homes sold in March 2011. The median selling price of a home in Lake County in March was $115,000, a 17.5 percent boost above the March 2011 median selling price of $97,900.
In Porter County, 124 single-family homes were sold in March, a 7.8 percent increase compared to the 115 homes sold in March 2011. The median selling price of a home in the county in March was $150,000, which was even with the median sales price of a home there in March 2011.