Fort Wayne: Rockin’ the Suburbs
This year, when Alejandro Duran got married, he and his wife, Daisha, went looking for a home with a few ideas in mind: They wanted a quiet neighborhood away from the bustle. They wanted a decent-sized house in a safe part of town. They wanted home to be not so far away from other areas of the city.
The 20-something newlyweds found what they were looking for in the Cherry Hill subdivision in the 46835 area code on the northeast side of the city. (This area has had the most homes sold over the past year.)
“We liked this area a lot,” said Duran. “The houses are not that old and were not so expensive. And they have attached garages.”
A lot of the real estate talk has centered on what’s happening downtown. There are the luxury condos, the new apartments, the houses in older areas of downtown beginning to flip with the interest of potential buyers.
The real estate market in Fort Wayne, though, is still its strongest along the outskirts — where the most desirable school districts and hospitals are located. Malls and shopping centers are being developed at a fast pace to cater to the suburban living many desire.
There were 721 homes sold in the 46835 zip code during 2016 and, through mid-August of this year, another 444 have been sold there, according to an analysis of Indiana Multiple Listing Service completed by Reecer Properties.
The median price of homes in that area, according to Realtor.com, is $166,000.
That tops most homes sold in any zip code, with the 46845 zip code — which neighbors the 46835 to the north and includes large parts of Tonkel and Union Chapel roads — coming in second with 617 homes sold in 2016 (and 356 so far this year).
The 46815 zip code — on the east side of the city — and the 46804 zip code on the southwest side ranked third and fourth. The 46825 zip code on the northwest side of town was number 5.
To developers, this is not all that surprising. These areas have been strong throughout the past few decades, and only became stronger with the building of the Parkview Regional Medical Center in the northwest and the Jefferson Pointe shopping center sprouting up in the southwest.
Northwest Allen County Schools and Southwest Allen County Schools — which include Carroll and Homestead high schools, respectively — are also in these parts of the city and consistently rank in many publications, such as US News and World Report, as two of the best in the area.
“From a developer standpoint, the focus is still the southwest, northeast and northwest,” said Jeff Thomas, co-owner and vice president of Oakmont Development, which develops communities throughout the area.
Some real estate experts have also reported an influx of people moving out of the city to New Haven. This may be because of East Allen County Schools, the new subdivisions going up or because it’s not too far and they can get to downtown on a straight shot along Highway 930.
“I’ve had a number of people from Fort Wayne and elsewhere looking at New Haven as an option,” said Steve McMichael, a real estate agent who specializes in Fort Wayne’s east-side neighborhood. “I think some people like the bedroom community charm, some come for the high school and some are considering options they wouldn’t have considered in the past.”
Part of this is because, according to McMichael, homes that hit the market are selling quickly — almost everywhere in the area.
The average number of days a home stayed on the market last year was 51, according to Reecer Properties. This year, that number has dropped to about 42 days. Inventory is short and demand high, but that comes with a bit of a caveat, according to Lynn Reecer, president and managing broker of Reecer Properties.
“That’s within a certain home price range, the $200,000 or less,” she said. “The luxury market in Fort Wayne is $300,000 and above, and our luxury market does not turn over that fast.”
One trend realtors are seeing in the luxury market is an increase in home sales along the lakes in counties like Kosciusko and elsewhere. While some of these homes may be little more than $100,000, some have a $1-million-and-above price-tag.
“This is a good time to buy a second house,” said Reecer. “They are not at the level they used to be. They are still pretty expensive, but not like they were, and lake property is a great investment. They hold their value really well.”
And for the most part, homes in this area — Fort Wayne and elsewhere — hold their value. Over the last 10 years, according to the Indiana Regional Multiple Listing Service, Fort Wayne’s median home value is at $96,200. Appreciation of homes has grown 5.8 percent over that time.
“Our home values generally stay the same,” said Jack Patton, executive vice president of Reecer Properties. “They appreciate, but only slightly, so if you’re thinking about an investment, you really have to be in it for the long haul.”