Strong year for home sales ends on 4-month skid

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Home-sale agreements in central Indiana plummeted 18.6 percent in December, the fourth-straight month of declining sales.

Real estate agency F.C. Tucker Co. said Tuesday that home buyers signed agreements for 1,315 homes in the nine-county area last month, down 301 homes from December 2012.

Although 2013 ended on a down note, home sales for the whole year were up 14 percent over 2012, Tucker reported. The number of contracts signed in 2013 hit 29,302, compared with 25,706 in 2012.

In recent months, however, higher mortgage rates and dwindling inventories have ganged up to reverse the sales trend. The average national rate for a 30-year fixed mortgage was 4.64 percent on Jan. 9, according to Bankrate. The low for 2013 was 3.52 percent in May.

In December, Marion County saw a 15.6-percent decline in pending sales, from 712 in December 2012 to 601 last month. Contracts decreased 25.5 percent in Hamilton County, to 243.

Johnson County's pending sales fell 34.4 percent, to 119. Contracts skidded 30.3 percent in Hendricks County, to 108.

Sales in three counties moved in the opposite direction. Morgan County buyers signed contracts on 48 homes, an increase of 15 homes and 45 percent over December 2012. Pending sales in Hancock County eked up from 51 to 54, a 6-percent increase. Madison County contracts ticked up 1.2 percent, to 83.

Available homes for sale in the region dropped 7.6 percent in December, to 9,594, down 794 homes from December 2012.

The average year-to-date sale price in the area rose 6.8 percent, to $166,483, compared with the same period of 2012. The average price for Marion County homes were up 8.7 percent, to $128,713. The average Hamilton County price jumped 5.6 percent to $254,167.

Five area homes that sold in December were priced between $1 million and $2 million. Thirty were priced between $500,000 and $1 million.

Based on the increase in prices and tightening of inventory, Tucker President Jim Litten believed that the area real estate market was strengthening.

“We’re optimistic about the start of the new year,” he said.


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