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Last updated: Sat. Jan. 18, 2014 - 11:57 am EDT

Fort Wayne area’s existing-home sales rise again

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At a glance

Here’s how the Fort Wayne area’s market for existing housing ended the year in December:

New listings… +7.2 percent, 523

Pending sales… -9.3 percent, 372

Closed sales… -3.8 percent, 502

Inventory… +4.4 percent, 3,076

Median selling price… -8.8 percent, $96,000

Source: Upstate Alliance of Realtors

Local housing officials have a reason to be happy.

For the second consecutive year, existing-home sales in the Fort Wayne area rose more than 10 percent, according to figures released Friday by the Upstate Alliance of Realtors.

The group said 7,313 homes sold last year, up from 6,634 in 2012. Upstate tracks data from Allen, Adams, DeKalb, Huntington, Noble, Wells and Whitley counties.

Additionally, the average selling price increased to $126,782 in 2013, compared with $126,424 a year earlier.

And even though prices were essentially flat from the previous year, officials are encouraged that the housing market seems to have finally put the recession in its rear-view mirror.

“We had a backlog of (buyers) who could afford to wait, and they did,” said J. Kyle Ness, president of the Upstate Alliance of Realtors.

“No one wants to buy a home to see it depreciate the next year,” he said. “Now, we’ve seen steady appreciation, and they’ve jumped back into the market.”

Ness said that while housing in the Fort Wayne area has never rivaled more-affluent regions, what is taking place is a good sign.

The region ended the year with 502 homes coming off the market in December, down 3.8 percent from 522 sold in December 2012.

“The first half of the year was strong, but we kind of tailed off a bit in the second half,” Ness said. “Still, it seems that we’ve turned the corner.”

He blamed slowing sales on seasonal adjustment, low inventory following a strong summer and the slight rise in interest rates.

But area mortgage experts say rates ranging from 4.5 percent to 5.5 percent will entice buyers come spring.

Earlier this week, the Home Builders Association of Fort Wayne reported that new construction in Allen County also fared well in 2013. Building permits rose 21.7 percent to 839 last year. In 2012, 689 building requests were submitted.

The Home Builders Association also reported an increase in the average home construction cost, going from $226,051 to $227,492 in 2013.

Greg Gerbers, vice president of the organization, attributed the improving market to pent-up demand.

Ellen Cutter, director of the Community Research Institute at IPFW, said that while it’s always nice to watch existing-home sales grow, the prices were somewhat disappointing.

“You would like to see more appreciation,” Cutter said. “We haven’t experienced real high swings in appreciation, but we haven’t had dramatic, drops either.”

pwyche@jg.net


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