Although the median sales price for existing homes is on the rise in Tippecanoe County, the number of closed sales in February dropped from the same month last year and for the past 12-month period.
A report released Tuesday by the Indiana Association of Realtors also shows that the volume of new listings of existing homes on the market has dwindled.
"There's been a lot of hesitation by consumers to make sure the economy is moving in the right direction -- combined with a rough winter," Eric Seymour, principal broker with the Lafayette office of Prudential Indiana Realty Group, said in explaining the drop in numbers.
The report shows that closed sales in February totaled 81 in Tippecanoe County. That's 12 percent lower than the same month last year. For the past 12 months, closed sales dropped 5.7 percent, to 1,625 units.
New listings also showed a decline -- down 35.2 percent, to 171 during February.
The median sales price of homes in Tippecanoe County that changed hands rose 7.1 percent in February, to $120,000. During the most recent 12-month period, the median sales price rose 3.9 percent, to $123,600.
Statewide, the number of closed sales decreased 7.1 percent, to 3,212 in February, when compared to a year ago. During the past 12 months, existing home sales in Indiana declined by 6.6 percent, to 57,603 units.
Median sales price of homes rose 2 percent in February, to $100,000. During the most recent 12-month period, the median sales price rose 2.3 percent, to $112,500.
Karl Berron, chief executive officer of the Indiana Association of Realtors, said he is not surprised that the number of closed sales is down year-over-year.
"There was quite a bit of activity in the marketplace this time last year as the federal homebuyer tax credit loomed," he said. "Until the impact of the tax credit recedes, it's best to review housing data in the long-term. Those trends are very positive and point to a potentially good spring and summer with regard to activity."
Matt Brown, director of business development with Forsalebyowner.com, said the Chicago-based company is finding some success in the struggling housing market, following expiration of the federal tax credit for first-time homebuyers last April.
We expected there would be more of a lag ... but we're keeping pace. Sales are just as strong as last year," Brown said. "We've got about a dozen listings in the Lafayette area right now. Things are really going well. We're finding people are using our service. With declining home values, people don't have money to pay an agent."
Berron said that, on a statewide basis, the median sale price of homes increased in 15 of the last 17 months and the inventory of homes for sale has steadily trended downward since late 2007.
"Of course, the linchpin to an improved market is consumer confidence," he said. "Buyers must have confidence in their ability to obtain and repay a mortgage before the number of closed sales will rise in a meaningful way. And that means jobs."
Seymour said listing prices have dropped a bit, interest rates are remaining at attractive levels and demand is expected to pick up.
That's why we'll see a good spring and summer," he said. "What we have seen since March 1 is a rash of accepted offers. The market is just going crazy."
This story first published at JConline.com at http://www.jconline.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/201103230200/BUSINESS/103230319