Catasauqua Press

Friday, November 24, 2017
It’s official: A sellers’ market for homes in the Lehigh Valley It’s official: A sellers’ market for homes in the Lehigh Valley

It’s official: A sellers’ market for homes in the Lehigh Valley

Friday, August 25, 2017 by PAUL WILLISTEIN pwillistein@tnonline.com in Business Showcase

Sales of homes in the Lehigh Valley moved back into positive territory in July during the traditional house sales summer season.

And, according to real estate experts, it’s pretty much a sellers’ market in the Lehigh Valley.

Closed sales bounced back, increasing 2.7 percent in July to 756 houses sold, compared to 736 houses in July 2016, according to the Greater Lehigh Valley Realtors (GLVR) monthly report.

Closed sales had decreased 2.4 percent in June to 893 houses sold, compared to 915 in June 2016, according to the GLVR.

Pending sales posted another strong double-digit percentage gain, up 14.8 percent in July to 824, compared to 718 in July 2016.

The Closed sales statistics reflect an up and down pattern so far for 2017.

For example, the June closed sales decrease followed a 14 percent increase in closed sales in May to 800 houses sold, compared to 702 in May 2016.

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

The double-digit increase of 13.7 percent in March reversed three months of decreases in 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 of the previous year.

Market analysis

According to the GLVR, the July report, which was released Aug. 14. shows that the shift to a predominantly seller’s market is mostly complete.

“Multiple-offer situations over asking price have been commonplace, and homes that are shown well and priced correctly are routinely off the market after a single day,” said GLVR CEO Justin Porembo.

Because of the multiple-offer situations, according to Porembo, sellers often saw offers at higher prices than asking.

In fact, the Percentage Of List Price Received, which was 98.3 percent in June, up from 97.5 percent in June 2016, is the highest it has been in 10 years.

Prices were fairly stable. The Median Sales Price in July increased 0.5 percent to $190,000, up from $189,000 in July 2016.

July saw continued encouragement for sellers as Days on Market was down 25.5 percent to 41 days, down from 55 days in July 2016, and Months Supply of Inventory dropped 42.4 percent to 3.4 months (clearly leaning in the favor of sellers, according to the GLVR monthly report), down from 5.9 months in July 2016. Most economists consider a balanced market to be a five- to six-month supply.

Despite inventory levels shrinking 39.5 percent to 2,321 units, down from 3,837 units in July 2016, there was a glimmer of increased buyer activity with the Closed Sales increase of 2.7 percent, according to the GLVR monthly report.

Even so, the Housing Affordability Index again decreased 3.3 percent, compared to July 2016, as the Average Sales Price again increased, by 5.2 percent to $223,757, compared to $212,721 in July 2016.

“Inventory levels have nearly bottomed out,” said GLVR President Cass Chies. “There really is nowhere to go but up. We may not see meaningful inventory increased when looking month-to-month, but we’ll certainly see the shift and gradual increase over the next few years.”

The GLVR July report asks: How long can the residential real estate market go on like this? The United States is about two years into a national trend of dropping housing supply and increasing median sales prices. There are some regional variations to the story, but the shift to a predominantly seller’s market is mostly complete.

It is evident that a favorable economy keeps hungry buyers in the chase, according to the GLVR experts.

Sales activity manages to keep churning along despite looming shortages in new construction. Lower price ranges are starting to feel the effects of the supply and demand gap, as first-time buyers scramble to get offers in at an increasing pace.

Although the unemployment rate remains unchanged at its favorable national 4.3 percent rate, wage growth has not been rising at the steady clip that would be expected in an improving economy.

LV monthly closed sales

Closed sales decreased 2.4 percent in June to 893 houses sold, compared to 915 in June 2016.

Closed sales increased 14 percent in May to 800 houses sold, compared to 702 in May 2016.

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

Closed sales 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 also bounced back in July, up 18.9 percent.

The Median Sales Price increased 7.5 percent to $122,500, in part because of low inventory levels and because of a noted increase in sales of higher-end homes.

Inventory levels again shrank, by 33.5 percent in July to 317 units.

Months Supply of Inventory was again down, 37.9 percent in July to 6.2 months.

GLVR information

The Greater Lehigh Valley Realtors is a not-for-profit trade association representing more than 2,000 Realtors in Carbon, Lehigh and Northampton counties. The association provides professional development and training resources, competitive market information, legislative advocacy, peer review and mediation processes for members, and a dispute resolution service for consumers.

The Association owns and operates the Greater Lehigh Valley Multiple Listing Service (MLS) and the Greater Lehigh Valley Real Estate Academy. Realtors are distinguished from real estate licensees by subscribing to a strict code of ethics and standards of practice as defined by the National Association of Realtors.

Information: GreaterLehighValleyRealtors.com