Central Indiana home buyers face bidding wars

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It's been a cold spring in Indiana. But if anything is heating up, it's the housing market.

New numbers from the Metropolitan Indianapolis Board of REALTORS (MIBOR) show the number of closed sales in central Indiana up 28.5% this February over last and the average sales price up 4.8%.

While Hamilton, Hancock and Johnson counties lead the way, Marion County isn't far behind.

In fact, realtor Libby Somerville says homes in historic Meridian-Kessler on the city's north side, are moving faster than they have in four to five years. Somerville says that's especially true of four-bedroom homes in the $400,000 to $600,000 range.

"When one comes on the market, it's like a shark infestation," Somerville said. "There are multiple offers. It's just a bidding war."

Somerville sold one home on North Pennsylvania Ave. in just five days in what she says has quickly become a seller's market.

"You have to be a ready, willing and able buyer," she said. "You have to have all your finances in order and letters and sometimes two letters of mortgage approval."

For Katie Dolan and her husband, the timing proved perfect to sell their home on North Central Ave.

"We got a good number at the high end of what we were asking, so we were thrilled with that," said Dolan.

The only problem now? They're buyers, looking for a bigger house in the same neighborhood close to Immaculate Heart, where their children attend school. The competition for houses means they "might be in some temporary housing for a little while."

Asked about recent housing trends, Claire Belby with MIBOR said, "The big story right now is the inventory is getting pretty tight."

She said it's down 29% this February over last and "that means fewer homes to choose from" with sellers "in a position to get top dollars."

Asked what was driving the turnaround, Belby noted "mortgage rates are still low" and "consumer confidence is starting to inch up."

She also said there's also been "a lot of pent-up demand for housing over the last couple of years. People are wanting to make that move and now they're feeling more confident about the job market or other economic factors and they're able to do it."

Somerville, for one, is glad to see the upturn after several dismal years. Her biggest challenge now? "We just really need more homes to sell."