Home sales in Howard County dropped 2 percent in June. But there’s good news: Pending sales are on the rise.

Real estate agents closed on 98 Howard County homes in June, which was two fewer than the same month a year ago.

The Indiana Association of Realtors released the June figures Monday that showed sales decreased by 11.2 percent across the state. Pending sales, the figures show, climbed by 16.4 percent.

While sales only showed a slight decline, the average sale price continues to be more than 14 percent below what it was a year ago in Howard County.

The association reported the median sale price in Indiana climbed to $119,900, a 4 percent increase.

In Howard County, according to the Realtors Association of Central Indiana, the median sale price for the month of June was $70,000. It was $82,000 a year ago.

RACI’s Amy Pate said the group has heard there is more activity in its six-county region — Tipton, Miami, Grant, Wabash, Cass and Howard counties.

“It takes time for that to translate into sales,” she said, noting the high pending sales figure.

Pate and the state association both note that it won’t be until October before realistic data is available. The federal government’s tax credit program didn’t end until last June 2010.

The biggest hurdle to closing sales remains the availability of funds, Pate said.

Foreclosures in RACI’s region remain significant, she said.

“It all ties back to unemployment,” Pate said. “The unemployment rate locally has wavered in recent months, but is not close to where it was a year ago.”

And now is the time to buy. Low mortgage rates and home prices give people good reasons to consider buying a home, Pate said.

“This is a great time to buy, not a great time to sell,” Pate said. “People looking to sell and move up are waiting to make sure their property will be sold.”

Karl Berron, CEO for the Indiana Association of Realtors, said pending sales is a tool to measure consumer confidence.

“We are encouraged to see that number rise,” he said, “which substantiates member reports of increasing interest and activity across the state.”

Economic circumstances continue to impact the real estate market, Berron said.

“We need continued job growth, available financing for qualified buyers and less foreclosure inventory,” he said.

Pate said sale prices in the region are starting to increase. The median sale price in Howard County for the first six months of 2011 is $76,000.

“Kokomo has historically been an affordable place to live,” she said. “What’s exciting is that Kokomo is still being looked at by businesses wanting to relocate. The community is bouncing back.”

Home sales in Miami County increased in June as compared to a year ago. As of June, 25 houses had been sold. Twenty-four houses were sold at this time last year.

The median sale price for 2011 in Miami County is $40,000.

Three fewer homes were sold in Tipton County as compared to last year’s figures, an

d the median sale price jumped 39 percent from $63,750 to $89,000 this year.

“The market is consistent,” Pate said. “It’s the same across all six counties.”

Home sales at a glance:

Here’s a comparison of the number of homes sold in the north central region of Indiana last year and through June of this year:

County          2010          2011

Howard         515              447

Miami             127             119

Tipton             52                45

Cass                 145             130

Grant              299               198

Wabash            123             113

Source: Indiana Association of Realtors

• Ken de la Bastide

We enjoy helping potential home owners learn all aspects of the home buying process and would love to share some more of our knowledge about mortgages with you at our next class “20 Things You Must Know Before Buying A Home”