Catasauqua Press

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Lehigh Valley house sales rebound 14 percent in May

Saturday, June 24, 2017 by PAUL WILLISTEIN pwillistein@tnonline.com in Business Showcase

Sales of houses in the greater Lehigh Valley rebounded by double-digit percentages in May.

Closed sales increased 14 percent in May to 800 houses sold, compared to 702 in May 2016, according to the Greater Lehigh Valley Realtors (GLVR).

For the year-to-date, closed sales are up 5.2 percent to 2,960 from 2,813 in year-to-date in 2016.

Pending sales posted even stronger double-digit percentage gains, up 21.9 percent in May to 958, compared to 786 in May 2016.

For the year-to-date, pending sales are also up in double-digit percentages, 10 percent to 3,813 from 3,467 for the year-to-date in 2016, according to the latest GLVR monthly report, released June 14.

Closed sales had decreased by 4.3 percent in April to 626 houses sold, compared to 654 in April 2016.

A double-digit increase of 13.7 percent in March had reversed three straight months of decreased closed sales: down 4.4 percent in February, down 10.8 percent in January and down 3.5 percent in December 2016, compared to those months in the previous year.

Market analysis

The latest GLVR report states that “May data shows that, although we continue to battle an inventory shortage in the Lehigh Valley and much of the country, optimism remains high for a successful summer for buying and selling homes.”

Said GLVR CEO Justin Porembo, “The overall economy is in better shape than it was a decade ago.

“More jobs are available, unemployment is relatively low and workers have more faith in their wages and the potential for wage increases.”

New Listings increased 4.3 percent to 1,251, up from 1,199 in May 2016.

Inventory levels again shrank by a large percentage, 40.5 percent to 2,214 units from 3,719 in May 2016.

Days on Market was down 12.3 percent to 50 days from 57 days in May 2016.

Showing the continued strain that low inventory is inflicting on the real estate market, Months Supply of Inventory was down 43.9 percent to 3.2 months (the lowest it’s been since 2005), down from 5.7 months in May 2016.

Home prices in the Lehigh Valley mimicked those across the United States as they continued to gain traction. The Median Sales Price increased 1.4 percent to $182,523 from $180,000 in May 2016.

The rise in prices is prompting worry over another boom-and-bust scenario like the U.S. experienced roughly 10 years ago, according to Cass Chies, President of GLVR.

“However, as we glance across the state of residential real estate, what is clear compared to the last extended run of price increases is that lending standards are now much stronger than they were before,” said Chies.

“Incomes must be verified, a reasonable amount of money must be paid toward the home prior to purchase and a more stringent loan approval process is in place to prevent a repeat performance of the Great Recession,” Chies said.

The GLVR report concluded there’s “a stronger base upon which to conduct real estate transactions.”

Other LV market data

In other statistics from the May GLVR report, the Average Sales Price actually declined by 3.7 percent to $209,060 in May from $217,164 in May 2016.

The percentage of list price received, increased slightly, 0.4 percent to 97.8 percent in May from 97.4 percent in May 2016.

The housing affordability index continued to decrease, 3.2 percent in May compared to May 2016.

LV monthly closed sales

Closed sales decreased 4.3 percent in April to 626 houses sold, compared to 654 in April 2016.

Closed increased 13.7 percent in March to 616 houses sold, compared to 542 in March 2016.

Closed sales decreased 4.4 percent in February to 433 houses sold, compared to 453 in February 2016.

Closed sales decreased 10.8 percent in January to 412 houses sold, compared to 462 in January 2016.

Closed sales decreased 3.5 percent in December 2016 to 601 houses sold, compared to 623 in December 2015.

Carbon County

In Carbon County, closed sales decreased 10.9 percent.

Pending Sales were up 30 percent.

Inventory levels decreased 32.7 percent to 302 units.

Months Supply of Inventory decreased 34 percent to 6.4 months.

GLVR information

The monthly housing data is collected by the GLVR from its Multiple Listing Service, a database that includes housing market information from its more than 2,000 Realtor members.

The GLVR is a not-for-profit trade association providing professional development and training resources, competitive market information, legislative advocacy, a peer review and mediation process for members, and a dispute resolution service for consumers.

The GLVR owns and operates the Greater Lehigh Valley Multiple Listing Service, the Greater Lehigh Valley Real Estate Academy and is publisher of Greater Lehigh Valley Real Estate Weekly.

Information: GreaterLehighValleyRealtors.com