Sales of existing homes still rising locally amid shrinking inventory

Existing-home sales in central Indiana ticked up 1.4 percent in April while rising for the 17th month out of the last 18.

The increase came amid a continuing increase in prices and a massive decline in housing inventory.

In the 13-county area, closed home sales rose from 2,954 in April 2016 to 2,995 last month, according to data released Tuesday by MIBOR Realtor Association.

Except for February, when they dipped 1.6 percent, closed sales in the area have risen every month on a year-over-year basis since October 2015.

The total number of active home listings in April dropped 18.5 percent, from 10,484 a year ago to 8,541 at the end of last month. New listings were down 8.5 percent, to 4,036.

The average home sale price during the year-over-year period rose 6.1 percent, to $195,649. The median price rose 6.7 percent, to $160,110.

Pending sales in the area were up 3.3 percent during the month, to 3,224.

Statewide, there was a 1.3 percent decrease in closed sales in April compared with the same month of 2016, the Indiana Association of Realtors said, and the average price of a home rose 5.2 percent, to $169,427.

The statewide inventory of homes dropped 16.2 percent, to 27,751 units. New listings fell 8.4 percent, to 10,454.

County breakdown

In Marion County—typically the most active market in central Indiana—closed sales rose just 0.6 percent in April, to 1,289.

The average sales price in the county rose 9 percent, to $159,741. The inventory of single-family homes for sale fell 23.1 percent, to 2,963. New listings were down 11.3 percent, to 1,659.

In Hamilton County, sales were up 2.1 percent, to 587, while the average sales price rose 6.1 percent, to $294,239.

In Hendricks County, sales rose 7.8 percent, to 263, while the average sales price jumped 13.1 percent, to $205,992.

In Johnson County, sales dropped 14.3 percent, to 234, while the average sales price increased 2.6 percent, to $194,245.

Boone County saw a 4.6 percent drop in sales, to 103, as the average price slipped 9.9 percent, to $275,292.

Sales in Hancock County rose 6.5 percent, to 115, and the average price rose 12.4 percent, to $190,693.

Madison County sales rose 23.5 percent, to 147, and the sales price was flat, at $101,493.

National trends

Meanwhile, U.S. sales of new homes last month registered the biggest drop in more than two years, but that was on a month-to-month, not-year-over-year, measurement.

The Commerce Department said Tuesday that new-home sales skidded 11.4 percent in April to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 569,000. It was the biggest monthly drop since March 2015. Economists had expected a more modest retreat from March sales of 642,000, which were the highest since October 2007. Sales in April were still up 0.5 percent from a year earlier.

Economists were inclined to view the April reading as a one-month blip. Ian Shepherdson, chief economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics, called last month's drop "a correction from the March cycle high, not a warning sign … We expect sales to rebound somewhat in May, and to return to the March high, at least, over the next few months."

A healthy job market is expected to give Americans confidence to buy homes. Employers added a solid 211,000 jobs last month, and the unemployment rate is at a decade-low 4.4 percent.

But last month, new-home sales fell in every region, led by a 26.3 percent plunge in the West, the biggest drop there since October 2010.

The median sales price of a new home slid 3 percent to $309,200.

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