Bethlehem Press

Friday, March 24, 2017

LV house sales plummet 10.8 percent in January

Friday, March 3, 2017 by The Press in Business Showcase

Sales of houses in the greater Lehigh Valley kicked off 2017 with a double-digit decline.

The year 2016 had also ended with a decline in closed sales in December.

The year started off on a down note, as closed sales dropped by 10.8 percent in January to 412 houses sold, compared to 462 in January 2016, according to the Greater Lehigh Valley Realtors (GLVR).

A bright note is that pending of houses sales in the Lehigh Valley were up by double digits in January.

The housing market in the Lehigh Valley ended the year 2016 with closed sales declining 3.5 percent in December to 601, compared to 623 in December 2015.

Market overview

According to the Feb. 14, GLVR report, January data shows that sale totals inevitably started off slow and may continue to do so in the first half of the year because of ongoing inventory concerns.

“January usually brings out a rejuvenated crop of buyers with a renewed enthusiasm in a new calendar year,” said GLVR CEO Justin Porembo.

“But continued declines in the number of homes available for sale may push out potential buyers who simply cannot compete for homes selling at higher price points in a low number of days, especially if mortgage rates continue to increase,” Porembo said.

Pending sales increased significantly in January, up 15.8 percent to 585, compared to 505 in January 2016.

According to the GLVR report, new listings decreased 5.5 percent to 732 in January from 775 in January 2016.

Inventory again decreased dramatically, 43.4 percent in January to 1,964 units, compared to 3,470 units in January 2016.

The median sales price decreased slightly, 0.1 percent to $169,900 in January from $170,000 in January 2016.

The average sales price increased slightly, 0.2 percent in January to $195,562 from $196,172 in January 2016.

The percentage of list price received decreased slightly, down 0.2 percent in January to 96.4 percent from 96.6 percent in January 2016.

The housing affordability index decreased 4.2 percent in January, compared to January 2016. This index measures housing affordability for the region. For example, an index of 120 means the median household income is 120 percent of what is necessary to qualify for the median-priced home under prevailing interest rates. A higher number means greater affordability.

Days on market decreased markedly, 14.5 percent to 59 days in January from 69 days in January 2016.

The months supply of inventory was again down significantly, 47.3 percent to 2.9 months in January from 5.5 months in January 2016.

“Wages are on the uptick for many Americans, while unemployment rates have remained stable and relatively unchanged for several months,” said GLVR President Cass Chies.

Noting the continued inventory struggle, Chies added, “The system is ripe for more home purchasing if there are more homes available to sell.”

In Carbon County, new listings were down 37.2 percent. Inventory levels shrank 27.6 percent to 301 units. Months Supply of Inventory was down 38.6 percent to 6.2 months. Days on Market decreased 26.4 percent to 89 days.