Bethlehem Press

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

September house sales decrease 3.5 percent

Thursday, October 26, 2017 by Paul Willistein pwillistein@tnonline.com in Business Showcase

Sales of houses in the Lehigh Valley declined as the summer selling season ended.

Closed sales decreased 3.5 percent in September to 697 houses sold, compared to 722 houses sold in September 2016, according to the Greater Lehigh Valley Realtors (GLVR) monthly report.

For the year to date, closed sales increased 4.2 percent, to 6,322, compared to 6,065 for the year to date in 2016.

On a positive note, pending sales increased 12.5 percent in September to 739, compared to 657 in September 2016.

For the year to date, pending sales are up 7.1 percent to 6,843, compared to 6,387 for the year to date in 2016.

The downturn in closed sales for September follows two straight months of increases in closed sales, and several months of increases and decreases.

Market analysis

The GLVR reported September data showed a modest month after home prices in the Lehigh Valley reached a near-decade high in August.

“The national sentiment has given rise to the notion that housing markets are stalling,” said GLVR CEO Justin Porembo. “Not so in the Lehigh Valley. Our Realtors® remain busy with hungry buyers who are determined to find that perfect home.”

In September, Inventory levels shrank 23.4 percent to 2,268 units, compared 2,962 in September 2016.

The Months Supply of Inventory dropped 27.3 percent to 3.2 months in September, down from 4.4 months in September 2016. Most economists consider a balanced market to be a five- to six-month supply, according to the GLVR.

Stated the GLVR report: “Although desirous buyers are out on an increasing number of showings, there remains a limited number of desirable listings.

“And although mortgage rates have remained enticingly low, home prices have reached unaffordable levels for many new entrants into the housing pool at exactly the same time that established owners are proving to be less interested in moving.”

The Housing Affordability Index again declined, 4.8 percent in September compared to September 2016.

Prices continued to gain traction. The Median Sales Price increased 2.7 percent to $184,950 in September, up from $180,100 in September 2016.

The Average Sales Price increased 1.5 percent to $218,551 in September, up from $215,394 in September 2016.

The Percentage of List Price received was the same, 97.5 percent in September, compared to 97.5 percent in September 2016.

Continued the report: “With the likes of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, different employment outlooks, disparate incomes, varying new construction expectations and potential housing policy shifts, regional differences are becoming more prevalent and pronounced.”

There were shifts toward the positive, according to GLVR officials. New Listings increased 7.6 percent to 981 in September, up from 912 in September 2016.

Homes put on the market continued to sell quickly. Days on Market decreased 22.2 percent to 42 days in September, a decrease from 54 days in September 2016.

“Flying off the market are homes that are shown well and priced correctly,” according to Cass Chies, President of GLVR. “Sellers often see offers at higher prices than asking. The hard part is finding these sellers and getting homes on the market.”

Porembo added, “The local and national storyline has been about high demand propping up sales and prices. This familiar refrain will continue.

“However, over time, we do anticipate the inventory storyline to lessen in the dramatics. Inventory will increase, but it will be gradual and will be seen over the next few years,” Porembo concluded.

Monthly closed sales

Closed sales increased 2 percent in August to 813 houses sold, compared to 797 houses sold in August 2016.

Closed sales increased 2.7 percent in July to 756 houses sold, compared to 736 houses in July 2016.

Closed sales decreased 2.4 percent in June to 893 houses sold, compared to 915 in June 2016.

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, the median sales price decreased 13.9 percent to $115,000. Inventory levels shrank 18.7 percent to 314 units. Months Supply of Inventory was down 25.6 percent to 6.1 months. However, pending sales climbed 36.7 percent to 67, and there were 70 closed sales, an increase from 40 closed sales.

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. The association 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.

The Association owns and operates the Greater Lehigh Valley Multiple Listing Service (MLS) and the Greater Lehigh Valley Real Estate Academy. Realtors are distinguished from real estate licensees by subscribing to a strict code of ethics and standards of practice as defined by the National Association of Realtors.

Information: GreaterLehighValleyRealtors.com