Bethlehem Press

Monday, December 11, 2017

LV house sales decline again, down 5.8 percent in October

Friday, November 24, 2017 by Paul Willistein pwillistein@tnonline.com in Business Showcase

House sales have declined for two months in a row in the Lehigh Valley.

Closed sales decreased 5.8 percent in October to 672 houses sold, compared to 713 houses sold in October 2016, according to the Greater Lehigh Valley Realtors (GLVR) monthly report.

Closed sales had decreased 3.5 percent in September to 697 houses sold, compared to 722 houses sold in September 2016.

For the year to date, closed sales increased 3.6 percent, to 7,020, compared to 6,778 for the year to date in 2016.

Pending sales again increased in October, nearly double the percentage in September.

Pending sales increased 22.5 percent in October to 758, compared to 619 in October 2016.

That compares to the pending sales increase of 12.5 percent in September to 739, compared to 657 in September 2016.

For the year to date, pending sales have increased 7.9 percent, to 7,560, compared to 7,005 for the year to date in 2016.

The downturn in closed sales for two straight months in October and September followed two straight months in August and July of increases in closed sales, and several months of increases and decreases in closed sales.

Market analysis

The GLVR report stated that “October data showed an active housing market, even during the so-called off-season of home sales.”

And, despite the downturn in house sales, GLVR officials expressed optimism in the monthly report, released Nov. 14.

“The national unemployment rate registered at 4.1 percent for October 2017, which means that joblessness has not been this low in the U.S. since December 2000,” said GLVR CEO Justin Porembo. “Mortgage rates are also holding steady at or near 3.9 percent. These factors are keeping the pool of potential buyers full.”

Historically, the average mortgage rate has been around 6.0 percent.

In October, new listings decreased 3.6 percent to 876, down from 909 in October 2016.

Inventory levels shrank 27.4 percent to 2,074 units in October, down from 2,855 units in October 2016.

The months supply of inventory dropped 32.6 percent to 2.9 months in October, down from 4.3 months in October 2016. According to the GLVR, most economists consider a balanced market to be a five- to six-month supply.

Stated the GLVR report: “It’s no surprise that homes shown well and priced correctly continue to fly off the market, at higher prices.”

Days on market decreased 20 percent to 44 days in October, down from 55 days in October 2016.

Increases in sales prices are nearing double-digits.

The median sales price increased 8.1 percent to $187,000 in October, up from $173,000 in October 2016. “When compared to the last 12 months, October places fourth for priciest,” according to the GLVR report.

The average sales price increased 9;8 percent to $215,438 in October, up from $196,152 in October 2016.

The percent of list price received continued impressively, up 1 percent in October to 97.8 percent, compared to 96.8 percent in October 2016.

The downside of increased prices is that the housing affordability index declined 12.1 percent in October, compared to October 2016.

“With today’s healthy economy, level of demand and national unemployment rate, sellers are going to continue to see strong prices for their homes,” said Cass Chies, President of GLVR.

“We just hope sellers get the message and consider listing, even during the winter months,” Chies continued. “They no longer have to wait until spring to find a buyer who will give them asking price. Sellers could absolutely miss out on a great opportunity by waiting.”

Continuing its upbeat assessment, the GLVR report for October observed: “For residential real estate in 2017, the news has continued to provide a relative sense of calm for both buyers and sellers.

“Although inventory levels are low in many markets, there has largely been enough listing and building activity, or at least conversation about future activity, to maintain a positive attitude about the prospects of buying or selling a home.

“Low affordability has started to become a recent topic of conversation and is worth watching,” concluded the GLVR report for October.

Closed sales

Closed sales decreased 3.5 percent in September to 697 houses sold, compared to 722 houses sold in September 2016.

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 increased 1.9 percent to $110,000.

Inventory levels shrank 22.8 percent to 305 units.

Months supply of inventory was down 32.6 percent to 5.8 months.

Pending sales climbed 48.7 percent to 58.

Closed sales were 62, which was the same number of closed sales in October 2016.

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