Catasauqua Press

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

LV house sales drop 7.9 percent; prices climb more than 17 percent

Friday, April 27, 2018 by Paul Willistein pwillistein@tnonline.com in Business Showcase

House sales in the Lehigh Valley are in a two-months straight decline, down 7.9 percent in March, compared to March 2017.

Closed sales for 2018 so far are down 1.4 percent, with 1,507 houses sold, down from 1,528 sold year-to-date for 2017.

Meanwhile, the Average Sales Price leaped by double digits, up 17.5 percent in March, as did the Median Sales Price, up 17.6 percent, both compared to March 2017.

Consequently, the Housing Affordability Index took a double-digit nosedive in March, down 16.5 percent, compared to March 2017.

Closed sales for March were down 7.9 percent to 595 houses sold, compared to 646 houses sold in March 2017, according to the Greater Lehigh Valley Realtors (GLVR) March report.

Closed sales for February were also down, by 6.7 percent to 421 houses sold, compared to 451 houses sold in February 2017.

Closed sales for January were up 2.6 percent to 442 houses sold, compared to 431 houses sold in January 2017.

Pending sales for March were also down: 0.1 percent to 779, compared to 780 in March 2017.

Pending sales for 2018 are up 1.2 percent to 1,981, compared to 1,958 year-to-date for 2017.

Lehigh Valley’s tight housing market seems to be getting even tighter with new listings down a whopping 18.6 percent to 882 in March, compared to 1,083 in March 2017.

New listings were down in February 2018 by 12.2 percent to 721, compared to 821 in February 2017.

New listings were down in January 2018 by 2 percent to 742, compared to 757 in January 2017.

Days on Market again dropped by double digits in March: 23.5 percent to 52 days, compared to 68 days in March 2017.

Days on the Market in February dropped by 23.8 percent to 48 days, compared to 63 days in February 2017. Days on Market also dropped by double digits in January by 20 percent to 48 days, compared to 60 days in January 2017.

Inventory declined even more in March, down 34.2 percent to 1,436, compared to 2,183 in March 2017.

Inventory also was down in February, down 30.1 percent to 1,497, compared to 2,141 in February 2017. Inventory also declined in January, down 27.9 percent to 1,551, compared to 2,152 in January 2017.

Months Supply in March was again down, by 37.5 percent to 2 months, compared to 3.2 months in March 2017.

Months Supply dipped in February, down 34.4 percent to 2.1 months, compared to 3.2 months in February 2017. Months Supply also dipped in January, down 31.3 percent to 2.2 months, compared to 3.2 months in January 2017.

Average Sales Price jumped in March by 17.5 percent to $231,423, compared to $196,949 in March 2017.

The Average Sales Price in February was up 2.1 percent to $212,530, compared to $208,197 in February 2017. The Average Sales Price in January was also up: 17 percent to $227,565, compared to $194,421 in January 2017.

The Median Sales Price also was up significantly in March: 17.6 percent to $200,000 from $170,000 in March 2017.

The Median Sales Price also rose in February, by 2.9 percent to $175,000, compared to $170,000 in February 2017. The Median Sales Price was also up in January, by 11.8 percent to $188,900, compared to $169,000 in January 2017.

The Percentage Of List Price Received continued its upward trend to 98.3 percent in March, compared to 97.8 percent in March 2017.

The Percentage of List Price Received was up slightly in February, by 0.4 percent to 97.7 percent, compared to 97.3 percent in February 2017. The Percentage of List Price Received was also up in January, by 1.1 percent to 97.5 percent, compared to 96.4 percent in January 2017.

The Housing Affordability Index continued its decline, this time by double figures, down 16.5 percent in March compared to March 2017.

The Housing Affordability Index in February was down 4.2 percent, and in January, it was down 9.2 percent, compared to February and January 2017, respectively.

Market analysis

According to the GLVR, the March data “showed a relatively slow start to the spring housing market in the Lehigh Valley, courtesy of the chilly weather and the lack of abundant inventory.”

However, “with high buyer activity and current sellers receiving, on average, 98.3 percent of list price, GLVR leadership believes more sellers should feel ready and willing to list,” stated the March report.

“Economic indicators such as unemployment rates and consumer confidence are in an improved state, and sellers currently hold the keys in the buyer-seller relationship,” said GLVR CEO Justin Porembo.

“Buyer demand has remained strong enough to keep prices on the rise, which should continue for the foreseeable future. Housing is proving its resiliency in a consistently improving economy,” Porembo said.

The March GLVR report noted that “The Federal Reserve raised its key short-term interest rate by .25 percent in March, citing concerns about inflation. It is the sixth rate increase by the Fed since December 2015, and at least two more rate increases are expected this year.”

Observed Sean LaSalle, 2018 President of GLVR: “Borrowing money will be more expensive, particularly for home equity loans, credit cards and adjustable rate mortgages, but rising wages and a low national unemployment rate that has been at 4.1 percent for five months in a row would seem to indicate that we are prepared for this.

“Having the financial ability to make a move clearly seems feasible to many eager buyers amidst a healthy economy, whether life events such as marriage, children, employment change or desirable downsizing is the reason for moving,” LaSalle said.

The GLVR March report continued: “Some markets have had increases in signed contracts, but the vast majority of the nation continues to experience fewer closed sales and lower inventory compared to last year at this time.

“And although mortgage rates have risen to their highest point in four years, they have been quite low for several years,” the GLVR March report concluded.

Information: GreaterLehighValleyRealtors.com