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Area home sales tick up

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Home-sale agreements in the nine-county Indianapolis area ticked up in November, marking the third consecutive month they’ve increased.

Pending home sales in November rose 3.3 percent, compared to the same month a year ago, according to a report released Wednesday by Indianapolis-based F.C. Tucker Co. Overall, 1,497 home-sale agreements were reached in the area in November 2009 compared to 1,449 in November 2008.

However, the increase in pending sales of houses — those with sales contracts signed but not closed — was much smaller than it had been in the previous two months. Pending sales climbed 20.1 percent in October and 12 percent in September compared with the same periods in 2008.

Home sales typically start to slow as winter approaches, said H. James Litten, president of F.C. Tucker’s residential real estate services division. But a few factors are contributing to the slight increase in sales.

“With the extension of the first-time home buyers' credit and the addition of the repeat-home buyers' credit, coupled with affordable housing prices and mortgage rates, we are experiencing steady activity in the market,” he said in a prepared statement.

The new-home buyers' law extends an $8,000 tax credit for first-time buyers that was to have expired in November. It now covers homes purchased or under contract through April 30 of next year. It also created a $6,500 tax break for home buyers who lived in their previous residence for at least five years.

The recent surge in home sales may keep the residential market from sinking below last year’s poor performance. Year to date, with just one month to go, overall pending home sales are down just 1.8 percent compared to the same time frame in 2008.

Home prices have yet to rebound, however. The average price in the nine-county area through the first 10 months was $139,169, a decline of 3.7 percent compared with the same period last year.

In November, home sales increased in five of the nine metropolitan counties: Boone, Hamilton, Johnson, Marion and Shelby.

In Hamilton County, 263 home-sale pacts were signed in November, a 6.5-percent jump from the same month last year.

Agreements in Marion County increased just 1.1 percent last month, to 725.
 

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