Bethlehem Press

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Lehigh Valley house sales rebound; up 1.3 percent in September

Friday, November 29, 2019 by Paul Willistein pwillistein@tnonline.com in Business Showcase

Sales of houses in the Lehigh Valley rebounded in September.

Closed sales for houses in the Lehigh Valley increased 1.3 percent in September, with 699 houses sold, compared to 690 houses sold in September 2018, according to the Greater Lehigh Valley Realtors (GLVR) monthly report released Oct. 14.

The upturn reversed a two-month decline in house sales in the Lehigh Valley.

Closed sales for the nine months of 2019 are up slightly, 0.9 percent, to 6,479, compared to 6,422 for the nine months of 2018.

Closed sales have decreased in five months of the nine months, stayed flat in one month and increased in three months in 2019.

September traditionally marks the end of the peak house sales season.

Closed sales declined in August and July, were flat in June and were up slightly in May.

Pending sales were up again, this time by double digits, 18.6 percent in September, to 754 houses, compared to 636 houses in September 2018.

New listings again decreased, down by a bit less than they were in August, down 5.8 percent in September to 921 houses, compared to 978 houses in September 2018.

The average sales price again increased, about the same as that in August, 5.5 percent in September to $233,305, compared to $221,136 in Septembe 2018.

The median sales price again increased, a bit more than in August, 7.7 percent in September to $210,000, compared to $194,950 in September 2018.

Inventory again decreased by double digits, even more so than in August, down 26.1 percent in September to 1,720 units, compared to 2,327 units in September 2018.

Days on the market increased again, a big jump compared to August, up 9.7 percent in September, or 34 days, compared to 31 days in September 2018.

The months’ supply of inventory again decreased by double digits, even more so than in August, down 27.3 percent in September, or 2.4 months, compared to 3.3 months in September 2018.

The percentage of list price received increased slightly, up 0.2 percent in September to 98.4 percent, compared to 98.2 percent in September 2018.

The housing affordability index jumped up again, comparable to that of August, 5.9 percent in September, compared to September 2018.

Market analysis

According to The Greater Lehigh Valley Realtors, the September data showed buyer and seller activity remaining strong, buoyed by low mortgage rates and a strong economy.

“The market fundamentals suggest no significant changes from recent trends, other than the seasonally tempered pace we see this time of year,” said GLVR CEO Justin Porembo.

“As we move into the final three months of the year, buyers may find fewer homes coming on the market, but also less competition for those homes,” Porembo said.

Prices continued to gain traction.

“Sales volume should be higher,” said GLVR President Carl Billera.

“To some extent, the reason it isn’t lies with the persistent housing shortages nationwide,” Billera said.

“New-home construction levels have failed to keep pace with population growth, shifting demographic preferences, and the aging housing stock,” said Billera.

With students kids back in school and the weather cooling, the housing market began its annual cooldown.

Nationally, buyer and seller activity remained strong, buoyed by low mortgage rates and a strong economy.

In Washington, D.C., there have been discussions about an overhaul of the housing finance system, including the re-privatization of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and reforms to federal agencies involved with financing substantial portions of the mortgages made every year.

Many of these policy conversations and eventual changes will take months or years to be implemented and their impact is not yet clear.

Closed sales

Closed sales for houses in the Lehigh Valley decreased 2.7 percent in August, with 926 houses sold, down from 952 houses sold in August 2018,

Closed sales for houses in the Lehigh Valley decreased 7.2 percent in July, with 814 houses sold, down from 877 houses sold in July 2018.

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 dipped to $146,000 in September, according to the GLVR.

Closed Sales decreased to 67 in September.

Pending Sales increased to 64 in September.

There was a decrease in Inventory to 326 units in September.

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