Bethlehem Press

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

House sales in Lehigh Valley decrease 2.4 percent in June

Friday, July 21, 2017 by Paul Willistein pwillistein@tnonline.com in Business Showcase

During what is traditionally considered to be the peak house sales season, the summer months, sales of houses in the Lehigh Valley moved back to negative territory.

Closed sales decreased 2.4 percent in June to 893 houses sold, compared to 915 in June 2016, according to the Greater Lehigh Valley Realtors (GLVR).

At midyear 2017, closed sales are up 4 percent to 3,878 from 3,728 year-to-date in 2016.

On the bright side and perhaps indicating that the peak sales season may yet perform true to form, pending sales posted a strong double-digit percentage gain, up 16 percent in June to 841, compared to 725 in June 2016.

Midway through the year, pending sales continue to be up, 9.4 percent to 4,587 from 4,191 for the year-to-date in 2016, according to the latest GLVR monthly report, released July 11.

The June closed sales decrease follows a 14 percent increase in closed sales 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.

A double-digit increase of 13.7 percent in March reversed three months of decreased 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

According to the GLVR, homes sales are moving quickly as inventory continues its drop and as prices continue to rise.

The GLVR reported that June data shows that the inventory slump is driving up home prices and sellers are almost always receiving asking price.

“There is strong demand for home buying, emphasized by higher prices and multiple offers on homes for sale,” said GLVR CEO Justin Porembo.

“As has been the case for month after month, and now year after year, low inventory is the primary culprit for any sales malaise rather than lack of offers,” Porembo said.

New Listings decreased 1.0 percent in June to 1,092, down from 1,103 in June 2016.

According to the GLVR monthly report, inventory levels shrank 40.3 percent to 2,255 units in June, down from 3,779 units in June 2016, again leading to an increase in home prices.

The Median Sales Price increased 11.2 percent to $200,000 in June, up from $179,900 in June 2016. According to the GLVR report, that’s “up a staggering $20,100 from one year ago.”

The Average Sales Price increased 12.5 percent to $232,361 in June, up from $206,514 in June 2016.

The Housing Affordability Index dropped 13.2 percent in June, compared to June 2016.

Because of multiple offers on house for sale, sellers saw 98.2 percent of List Price Received in June, up 0.6 percent from 97.6 percent in June 2016.

Once homes were listed, they didn’t stay available for long, according to the GLVR. Days on Market was down 33.9 percent to 37 days in June, compared to 56 days in June 2016.

Months Supply of Inventory decreased 43.1 percent to 3.3 months in June, down from 5.8 months in June 2016.

“With job creation increasing and mortgage rates remaining low, the pull toward homeownership is expected to continue,” said Cass Chies, President of GLVR.

However, Chies noted, housing starts have been drifting lower, and some are beginning to worry that a more serious housing shortage could be in the cards if new construction and building permit applications continue to come in lower in year-over-year comparisons while demand remains high.

“We are seeing pockets of new construction in the Lehigh Valley,” Porembo added. “Homebuilder confidence is on the rise, so predictions of a gloomy future should be curbed for the time being.”

There has been a general slowdown in sales across the United States, stated the GLVR report, and this cannot be blamed on negative economic news. Unemployment remains low and wage growth, though nothing to overly celebrate, has held steady or increased for several years in a row.

LV monthly closed sales

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, Closed Sales were down 19.7 percent.

Pending Sales, however, were up 23.1 percent.

Inventory levels shrank 36.5 percent to 297 units.

Months Supply of Inventory was down 37.4 percent to 6.2 months.

GLVR information

The monthly housing data is collected by the GLVR from its Multiple Listing Service, a database that includes housing market information from its more than 2,000 Realtor members.

The GLVR is a not-for-profit trade association providing professional development and training resources, competitive market information, legislative advocacy, a peer review and mediation process for members, and a dispute resolution service for consumers.

The GLVR owns and operates the Greater Lehigh Valley Multiple Listing Service, the Greater Lehigh Valley Real Estate Academy and is publisher of Greater Lehigh Valley Real Estate Weekly.

Information: GreaterLehighValleyRealtors.com