Whitehall-Coplay Press

Friday, February 28, 2020

Lehigh Valley house sales rebound by 10.2 percent at year’s end

Thursday, February 6, 2020 by PAUL WILLISTEIN pwillistein@tnonline.com in Business Showcase

Sales of houses in the Lehigh Valley closed strong for the end of the year, increasing by double-digit figures in December 2019.

Closed sales for houses in the Lehigh Valley increased 10.2 percent in December, with 626 houses sold, compared to 568 houses sold in December 2018, according to the Greater Lehigh Valley Realtors (GLVR) monthly report released Jan. 14.

Closed sales for 2019 are up slightly, 1.7 percent, to 8,587, compared to 8,445 in 2018.

In 2019, closed sales decreased in seven months, increased in four months and were flat in one month.

Closed sales decreased in November, October, August, July, March, February and January, increased in December, September, May and April and were flat in June.

The December upturn reversed two straight months of declining house sales in the Lehigh Valley.

However, the number of houses sold in December 2019 was fewer than the number of houses sold in November 2019 and in October 2019.

Closed sales for houses in the Lehigh Valley declined 1.5 percent in November 2019, with 700 houses sold, compared to 711 houses sold in November 2018, according to the GLVR.

The percentage of decline in closed sales for houses in November was less than that of the percentage of decline for closed sales of houses in October.

Closed sales for houses in the Lehigh Valley decreased 5.5 percent in October, with 703 houses sold, compared to 744 houses sold in October 2018.

The percentage of pending sales declined in December, down 4.3 percent to 449 houses, compared to 469 houses in December 2018.

The decline in pending sales was unusual in that pending sales usually increase in monthly comparisons.

For example, pending sales increased 18 percent in November, to 656 houses, compared to 556 houses in November 2018.

Pending sales increased 8.6 percent in October, to 767 houses, compared to 706 houses in October 2018.

New listings again decreased, down 7.3 percent in December to 442 houses, compared to 455 houses in December 2018.

The average sales price again increased, up 5.3 percent in December to $233,319, compared to $221,648 in December 2018.

The median sales price again increased, also up 5.3 percent in December to $200,000, compared to $190,000 in December 2018.

Inventory decreased significantly, again by double digits, down 25.4 percent in December to 1,284 units, compared to 1,722 units in December 2018.

Days on the market was flat, at 0.0 percent, showing no increase or decrease in December, or 42 days, identical to 42 days in December 2018.

The months’ supply of inventory decreased significantly, again by double digits, down 25 percent in December, or 1.8 months, compared to 2.4 months in December 2018.

The percentage of list price received again increased slightly, up 0.4 percent in December to 97.8 percent, compared to 97.4 percent in December 2018.

The housing affordability index increased slightly, 1.8 percent in December, compared to December 2018.

Market analysis

The GLVR December data showed the Lehigh Valley housing market ending the year on a high note, with increases in closed sales, prices and the percentage of list price received.

“With low mortgage rates, low unemployment, and continued wage growth, home buyer activity is expected to remain healthy into the new year,” said GLVR CEO Justin Porembo.

“Prices in the Lehigh Valley shouldn’t scare off buyers, as mortgage rates ended the year close to three-quarters of a percent lower than a year ago, helping to improve affordability and offset rising home prices,” Porembo said.

New construction and sellers of existing homes are still needed, though, according to the GLVR.

“New construction has been on the rise in 2019 and is expected to continue into 2020, but many experts note that the country, and the Lehigh Valley, is still not building enough new units to quench demand,” said GLVR’s 2019 President Carl Billera.

“It remains to be seen whether existing homeowners will be enticed to sell by higher home prices, which could finally bring the overall housing market into greater balance,” Billera said.

This is particularly important to watch as the balance in the Lehigh Valley housing market leans heavily toward a seller’s market, according to the GLVR.

The Months Supply of Inventory for Lehigh and Northampton counties in December came in at 1.8 months, which is the lowest on record since GLVR began tracking statistical housing data in 1996.

In a housing market balanced between buyers and sellers, the Months Supply of Inventory is between six and seven months, according to the National Association of Realtors.

At December’s sales pace, it would only take 1.8 months to sell all the homes on the market in the Lehigh Valley.

In 2019, home prices were up again in most markets. Buyer demand continues to be strong but with tepid seller activity still in many locations, total sales are lower than they would normally be in a more balanced market, the GLVR December report stated.

Closed sales

Closed sales for houses in the Lehigh Valley decreased 1.5 percent in November 2019, with 700 houses sold, compared to 711 houses sold in November 2018.

Closed sales for houses in the Lehigh Valley decreased 5.5 percent in October, with 703 houses sold, compared to 744 houses sold in October 2018.

Closed sales for houses in the Lehigh Valley increased 1.3 percent in September, with 699 houses sold, up from 690 houses sold in September 2018.

Closed sales for houses in the Lehigh Valley decreased 2.7 percent in August, with 926 houses sold, down from 952 houses sold in August 2018,

Closed sales for houses in the Lehigh Valley decreased 7.2 percent in July, with 814 houses sold, down from 877 houses sold in July 2018.

Closed sales for houses in the Lehigh Valley didn’t increase or decline in June, 0.0 percent, with 901 houses sold, identical to 901 houses sold in June 2018.

Closed sales for houses in the Lehigh Valley increased 0.4 percent in May, with 815 houses sold, up from 812 houses sold in May 2018,

Closed sales for houses in the Lehigh Valley increased 3.8 percent in April, with 651 houses sold, up from 627 houses sold in April 2018,

Closed sales for houses in the Lehigh Valley decreased 7.2 percent in in March, with 589 houses sold, down from 635 houses sold in March 2018.

Closed sales for houses in the Lehigh Valley decreased 7.7 percent in February, with 418 houses sold, down from 453 houses sold in February 2018.

Closed sales for houses in the Lehigh Valley decreased 5.7 percent in January, with 448 houses sold, down from 475 houses sold in January 2018.

Carbon County

In Carbon County, the Median Sales Price increased to $151,500 in December.

Closed Sales increased to 60 in December.

Pending Sales increased to 47 in December.

New listings increased to 60 in December.

Inventory decreased to 271 units in December.

The Months Supply of Inventory was 4 months in December.

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.

GLVR 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.

GLVR owns and operates the Greater Lehigh Valley Multiple Listing Service and the Greater Lehigh Valley Real Estate Academy.

Information: GreaterLehighValleyRealtors.com