Bethlehem Press

Monday, September 16, 2019

House sales in Lehigh Valley decline 7.2 percent in July

Friday, August 23, 2019 by Paul Willistein pwillistein@tnonline.com in Business Showcase

House sales in the Lehigh Valley took a dive in the midst of the peak housing sales season.

Closed sales for houses in the Lehigh Valley dropped a significant 7.2 percent, with 814 houses sold, compared to 877 houses sold in July 2018, according to the Greater Lehigh Valley Realtors (GLVR) monthly report released Aug. 13.

Closed sales for the first seven months of 2019 are up slightly, 0.2 percent, to 4,791 from 4,780 for the first seven months of 2018.

Closed sales have decreased in four months, stayed flat in one month and increased two months in the first seven months of 2019.

Pending sales were again up, 7.8 percent in July, to 899 houses, compared to 834 houses in July 2018.

New listings again decreased by double digits, down 10.3 percent in July to 1,074 houses, compared to 1,197 houses in July 2018.

The average sales price again increased, 6.4 percent in July to $247,526, compared to $232,650 in July 2018.

The median sales price again increased, 5.7 percent in June to $222,000, compared to $210,000 in July 2018.

Inventory again decreased by double digits, down 17.8 percent in July to 1,757 units, compared to 2,137 units in July 2018.

Days on the market again decreased, down 6.9 percent in July, or 27 days, which is not much more than two weeks, compared to 29 days in July 2018.

The months’ supply of inventory again decreased by double digits, down 16.7 percent in July, or 2.5 months, compared to 3 months in July 2018.

The percentage of list price barely changed, down 0.1 percent in July to 98.5 percent, compared to 98.6 percent in July 2018.

The housing affordability index stayed the same, with no percent increase or decline in July, compared to July 2018.

Market analysis

Housing prices in July set a Lehigh Valley record for the second month in a row. Days on the market also set a record.

However, high home prices are outpacing median household income growth.

“The economy continues to expand, and we see an unemployment rate that has dropped from 10 percent in 2009 to 3.7 percent, yet many consumers continue to struggle financially,” said GLVR CEO Justin Porembo.

“While we like to see a hot market and homes moving, we’re keeping a pulse on the continuing inventory struggles and how the higher home prices are affecting buyers, particularly first-time buyers,” Porembo said.

The good news, according to GLVR President Carl Billera, is that low mortgage interest rates have helped offset low housing affordability.

And, in a move that he hopes stokes continued economic prosperity, the Federal Reserve reduced the benchmark interest rate by a quarter point to about 2.25 percent, marking the first reduction in more than a decade.

In July, the United States economic expansion that began in June 2009 became the longest in the nation’s history, marking 121 straight months of gross domestic product growth and surpassing the 120-month expansion from 1991 to 2001.

The average rate of growth during the latest expansion has been a milder 2.3 percent per year, compared to 3.6 percent during the 1990s.

Although the economy should continue to perform well for the rest of 2019, most economists see a mild recession on the horizon.

Closed sales

Closed sales for houses in the Lehigh Valley didn’t increase in June, 0.0 percent, with 901 houses sold, identical to 901 houses sold in June 2018.

Closed sales for houses in the Lehigh Valley increased 0.4 percent in May, with 815 houses sold, up from 812 houses sold in May 2018,

Closed sales for houses in the Lehigh Valley increased 3.8 percent in April, with 651 houses sold, up from 627 houses sold in April 2018,

Closed sales for houses in the Lehigh Valley decreased 7.2 percent in in March, with 589 houses sold, down from 635 houses sold in March 2018.

Closed sales for houses in the Lehigh Valley decreased 7.7 percent in February, with 418 houses sold, down from 453 houses sold in February 2018.

Closed sales for houses in the Lehigh Valley decreased 5.7 percent in January, with 448 houses sold, down from 475 houses sold in January 2018.

Carbon County

In Carbon County, the Median Sales Price dropped to $122,000 in July.

Closed Sales increased to 79 in July.

Pending Sales increased to 81 in July.

Inventory decreased to 346 units in July.

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.

GLVR 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.

GLVR owns and operates the Greater Lehigh Valley Multiple Listing Service and the Greater Lehigh Valley Real Estate Academy.

Information: GreaterLehighValleyRealtors.com