House sales inch up in September

Sales of existing houses in the 13-county Indianapolis area increased in September, the first year-over-year increase since May 2007, the Metropolitan Indianapolis Board of Realtors said yesterday.

Not that the increase amounted to much – 1 percent, to 2,232 units, compared to the same month a year ago. But the uptick was a psychological boost to an industry decimated by the subprime mortgage bust.

The last time the trade group recorded an increase was in May 2007, when sales rose nearly 3 percent, to 3,340 units from 3,245 units in May 2006.

Claire Belby, a spokeswoman for the trade group, said buyers might be edging back into the market, thinking the depressed values are a good deal. The $114,900 median sale price in September was down more than $5,000 from September 2007.

The market also might be fueled by sales of foreclosed houses, Belby said.

September was a bright spot in a market that has largely spiraled downward for more than a year.

For the quarter ended in September, sales were down 11 percent from the same quarter last year. And the average price in the quarter fell 6 percent, to $146,712.

At the county level in September, only Brown, Hancock and Putnam staged increases in properties sold. In the quarter, only Hendricks saw an increase.

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