Area home sales slumped in January after strong 2015

Sales of existing homes in central Indiana plunged nearly 10 percent in January as the number of properties on the market tumbled.

The number of signed sales agreements—also known as pended sales—in the nine-county metropolitan area skidded from 1,926 in January 2015 to 1,743 last month, according to data released Friday morning by real estate agency F.C. Tucker Co.

Tucker drew a link between the drop in pended sales and a similar decline in the inventory of available homes. In January, buyers in the nine-county area had 8,343 properties from which to choose, down 11.7 percent from 9,450 in January of last year.

“Low inventory is a trend nationwide, and it can affect the health of the real estate market,” said Jim Litten, president of F.C. Tucker Co.

The decrease comes after a rebound year for sales in central Indiana. Sales of existing homes climbed 8 percent in 2015—31,312, up from 28,987 in 2014—and experienced their most robust performance since before the Great Recession.

Last month, the average sale price of homes in the Indy market rose 2.1 percent, from $167,734 to $171,253, over January 2014.

The decrease in pended sales in January was felt most profoundly in the region’s two most upscale counties. Pended sales dropped 25.6 percent in Hamilton County, from 438 in January of last year to 326, and 29.2 percent in Boone County, from 72 to 51.

In Marion County, the area’s biggest market, sales remained nearly same, inching up 0.6 percent from 828 to 833. Other notable losses came in Johnson County, where sales fell 16 percent to 137, and in Hendricks County, with a 14.8 percent slide to 138.

All nine counties recorded declines in inventory, although the shrinkage in Boone and Hamilton didn’t match up with their downturns in sales. The number of available homes in Boone fell 8.1 percent, from 357 to 328. In Hamilton, they dropped 6.6 percent, from 1,549 to 1,447.

One home priced above $2 million changed hands in January. Eight were priced between $1 million and $2 million, and 36 were priced between $500,000 and $1 million.

The average home sale price drooped 14.9 percent in Boone, from 291,262 to $247,748, while the average price in Hamilton of $271,330 was essentially unchanged from January 2015.

The average home price in Marion County eked up 3.7 percent to $131,312. The biggest percentage increase occurred in Morgan County, where the average price jumped 18.8 percent to $145,974.

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