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Old 05-17-2006, 10:38 PM
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Post NW Indiana housing sales buck trend

Housing sales kept humming along in April in Northwest Indiana, with selling prices edging up slightly.

A slow-but-steady rate of sales, and similar increases in median selling price, have helped insulate Northwest Indiana from a housing bubble showing signs of bursting in other parts of the country.

Buyers in April came away with 684 new and existing homes in Lake and Porter counties combined -- a 3 percent drop from April 2005 and down by eight total houses from March, according to information from the Greater Northwest Indiana Realtors Association.

The median selling price stood at $130,000, up from $129,000 a year ago, and from $128,500 in March.

"We're just moving right along nice and steady," said Buford Eddy, owner of Four Seasons Real Estate in Crown Point.

Other parts of the country didn't fare as well.

Existing home sales fell by more than 15 percent in states that once had the hottest housing markets, including California, Florida, Nevada and Arizona, the National Association of Realtors reported this week.

Median sales prices rose across the country, the National Association said, but at a less feverish rate than a year ago.

Prices are up 6.7 percent in the Midwest, the national industry group said. In the West, prices are up 12 percent from last year, compared with an 18.9 percent gain a year earlier.

Indiana ranked near the bottom when it came to house-price appreciation in a March report from the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight.

The report by the agency, which monitors the housing finance institutions Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, put Indiana at No. 48 among all states plus the District of Columbia.

House prices rose by 4.60 percent in Indiana from late 2004 to late 2005, and by 20.59 percent over five years ending in late 2005, the report said.

In top-ranked Arizona, house prices rose 34.90 percent in one year and 89.39 percent over five years.

Indiana's low ranking could turn out to be a benefit, Eddy said.

Home prices have held steady. "That makes us a pretty good bargain," he said. "We don't have a bubble to burst."

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