Catasauqua Press

Monday, December 11, 2017
LV median house prices reach near decade-high levels; closed sales up 2 percent near end of summer season LV median house prices reach near decade-high levels; closed sales up 2 percent near end of summer season

LV median house prices reach near decade-high levels; closed sales up 2 percent near end of summer season

Friday, September 29, 2017 by Paul Willistein pwillistein@tnonline.com in Business Showcase

Sales of houses in the Lehigh Valley continue to increase as the peak summer sales season drew to a close.

And according to The Greater Lehigh Valley Realtors (GLVR), median home prices are being reported that haven’t been seen in nearly a decade.

The median sales price in August was $205,000, a 2.8 percent increase from a year ago and $2,000 less than the $207,000 figure reached in July 2008. The decade high for median sales price is $215,000 in July 2007.

Closed sales continued in positive territory, increasing 2 percent in August to 813 houses sold, compared to 797 houses sold in August 2016, according to the Greater Lehigh Valley Realtors (GLVR) monthly report.

For the year to date, closed sales have increased 4.8 percent, to 5,517 for the year to date, compared to 5,263 for the year to date in 2016.

Pending sales are up 6.6 percent as of August to 792, compared to 743 in August 2016.

For the year to date, pending sales were up 7.6 percent to 6,079 for the year to date, compared to 5,649 for the year to date in 2016.

It’s the second-straight month for an increase in closed sales, after several months of increase and decreases. Closed sales increased 2.7 percent in July to 756 houses sold, compared to 736 houses in July 2016.

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

Closed sales increased 14 percent 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

August tends to mark the waning of housing activity ahead of the school year. Not all buyers and sellers have children, but there are enough parents that do not want

to uproot their children during the school year to historically create a natural market cool-down before any actual temperature change.

According to the GLVR August report, which was released Sept. 12, the median home price increase that hasn’t been seen in nearly a decade is caused by the continuing trend of low supply and high demand.

The median sales price increased 2.8 percent to $205,000, compared to $199,500 in August 2016.

That is only $2,000 less than the $207,000 figure reached in July 2008. The decade high for median sales price is $215,000 in July 2007.

The median sales price increased 3.4 percent year to date to $185,000, up from $179,000 year to date in 2016.

The average sales price head steady, increasing 0.6 percent to $227,551 from $226,144 in August 2016. The average sales price increased 4 percent year to date to $214,839, up from $205,599 year to date in August 2016.

At the same time, the housing affordability index again decreased 4.7 percent, compared to August 2016, after also decreasing 3.3 percent in July, compared to July 2016.

The percentage of list price received continued stable and high, a 0.2 percent increase to 97.7 percent, up from 97.5 percent in August 2016.

“Competition is expected to remain fierce for available listings,” said GLVR CEO Justin Porembo.

“Savvy sellers and buyers know that deals can be made well into the school months,” Porembo continued. “The market is historically seasonal with a hot spring and summer and cool fall and winter. As we enter the last months of 2017, we can expect more of the same trends and no drastic market changes.”

GLVR’s reported August data saw new listings decrease 8.2 percent to 954, down from 1,039 in August 2016.

Inventory levels shrank 41.1 percent to 2,238 units, down from 3,799 units in August 2016, leading to a Months Supply of Inventory that was down 44.8 percent to 3.2 months, down from 5.8 months in August 2016.

Most economists consider a balanced market to be a five- to six-month supply.

Days on Market was down 33.9 percent to 37 days, down from 56 days in August 2016.

“The prevailing trends of low supply and high demand lasted through summer,” said GLVR President Cass Chies. “This was expected, since there have not been any major changes in the economy that would affect housing. Factors such as wage growth, unemployment and mortgage rates have all been stable.”

Porembo added, “Every locality has its unique challenges, but the whole of residential real estate is in good shape. Recent manufacturing data is showing demand for housing construction materials and supplies, which may help lift the ongoing low inventory situation in 2018.”

Monthly closed sales

Closed sales increased 2.7 percent in July to 756 houses sold, compared to 736 houses in July 2016.

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, the median sales price increased 38.5 percent to $117,400, in part because of low inventory levels and because of a noted increase in sales of higher-end homes.

Inventory levels shrank 35.1 percent to 309 units.

Months Supply of Inventory was down 39 percent to 6.1 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