Bethlehem Press

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

LV house sales down 4.4 percent in February

Friday, March 31, 2017 by PAUL WILLISTEIN pwillistein@tnonline.com in Business Showcase

Sales of houses in the greater Lehigh Valley declined for the second straight month in 2017, but at a lesser rate.

Closed sales dropped by 4.4 percent in February to 433 houses sold, compared to 453 in February 2016, according to the Greater Lehigh Valley Realtors (GLVR).

On a bright note again, pending of houses sales in the Lehigh Valley were again up by double digits in February.

Pending sales were up 16.6 percent in February to 687, compared to 589 in February 2016.

Closed sales dropped by 10.8 percent in January to 412 houses sold, compared to 462 in January 2016.

For the year so far, closed sales have decreased 6.4 percent year to date, down to 856 in 2017 from 915 in 2016.

It was the third month in a row for a decline in closed sales, which declined 3.5 percent in December 2016 to 601, compared to 623 in December 2015.

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

According to the February 2017 Lehigh Valley housing report, which was released March 15, new listings decreased 9 percent to 788 in February, compared to 866 in February 2016.

Inventory again decreased dramatically, down 43.2 percent in February to 1,949 units, compared to 3,432 units in February 2016.

Prices continued to gain traction in February.

The median sales price increased 4.2 percent to $172,000 in February from $165,000 in February 2016.

The average sales price increased 10.2 percent in February to $210,190 from $190,705 in February 2016.

Consequently, the housing affordability index again decreased, this time by 8.3 percent in February, compared to February 2016.

The housing affordability index also decreased in January, by 4.2 percent, compared to January 2016.

The percentage of list price received increased slightly, up 0.6 percent in February to 97.2 percent from 96.6 percent in February 2016.

Days on the market again decreased markedly, down 19 percent to 64 days in February from 79 days in February 2016.

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

Sellers were encouraged as the Months Supply of Inventory was again down by nearly 50 percent.

The months supply of inventory was down significantly, 46.3 percent to 2.9 months in February from 5.4 months in February 2016.

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

A housing supply of more than six months is needed for a generally balanced market between home buyers and sellers, according to the GLVR.

Market overview

“We’re seeing sellers receiving a generous number of offers in this market,” said Cass Chies, the president of GLVR. “The worry for sellers, though, is whether there will be a generous number of homes to choose from when they are ready to buy.”

According to the GLVR February data, the start of the year ushered in a wave of good news with a hot stock market, higher wages and an active home sales environment.

“That said, housing prices have continued to rise, and the low inventory situation and affordability crunch has been particularly hard on first-time buyers struggling to get into the market,” said GLVR CEO Justin Porembo. “Nevertheless, buyer activity is easily outpacing seller activity in the Greater Lehigh Valley, culminating in relatively quick sales and low supply.”

In Carbon County, new listings were down 19.7 percent. Inventory levels shrank 28.2 percent to 290 units. Months Supply of Inventory was down 37.5 percent to 6 months. Days on Market decreased 24.2 percent to 100 days.