East Penn Press

Monday, January 21, 2019

March LV house sales rebound 13.7 percent

Friday, April 28, 2017 by PAUL WILLISTEIN pwillistein@tnonline.com in Business Showcase

Sales of houses in the greater Lehigh Valley rebounded in March to put first-quarter 2017 house sales in positive territory.

Closed sales increased by double digits, up 13.7 percent in March to 616 houses sold, compared to 542 in March 2016, according to the Greater Lehigh Valley Realtors (GLVR).

For the first quarter of 2017, closed sales have increased 1.8 percent year to date, to 1,483 in 2017 from 1,457 in 2016.

Pending house sales in the Lehigh Valley were again up by double digits in March.

Pending sales were up 20.6 percent in March to 859, compared to 712 in March 2016.

For the first quarter of 2017, pending sales are up 14.2 percent to 2,062, compared to 1,806 for first-quarter 2016.

The March bounce reversed three straight months of declining closed sales: 4.4 percent in February, 10.8 percent in January and 3.5 percent in December 2016.

According to the GLVR data for March, which was released April 11, the first quarter showed a good start for residential real estate in the Lehigh Valley in 2017.

Market analysis

“There was certainly plenty to worry over when the year began,” said GLVR CEO Justin Porembo. “Aside from new national leadership in Washington, D.C., and the policy shifts that can occur during such transitions, there was also the matter of continuous low housing supply, steadily rising mortgage rates and ever-increasing home prices.”

Nevertheless, Porembo said, sales have held their own in year-to-year comparisons and should improve during the busiest months of the real estate sales cycle.

While inventory levels continued to shrink, with inventory down 45 percent in March, the first quarter ended with promising statistics as prices continued to gain traction.

New listings decreased 11.5 percent to 1,059 in March, compared to 1,197 in March 2016.

Inventory continued to decrease dramatically, down 45 percent in March to 1,953 units, compared to 3,552 units in March 2016.

The median sales price again increased, 4.8 percent to $175,000 in March from $167,000 in March 2016.

The average sales price increased 4 percent in March to $198,301 from $190,708 in March 2016.

The percentage of list price received increased slightly, up 0.7 percent in March to 97.7 percent from 97 percent in March 2016.

The housing affordability index continued to decrease in March by 8.5 percent compared to March 2016.

Days on the market again decreased by double digits, down 13 percent to 67 days in March from 77 days in March 2016.

The months supply of inventory was down 48.2 percent to 2.9 months in March from 5.6 months in March 2016.

Sellers were encouraged by the months supply of inventory decrease.

“With the final snow storm behind us, our Realtor members are comparing recent activity to a dam bursting,” said Cass Chies, President of GLVR. “We’ve been anticipating this increase in activity.

“The weather has improved and sellers have caught wind that the market is leaning in their favor. We have sellers ready to take advantage of the market and buyers ready for new inventory,” Chies said.

The United States economy has improved for several quarters in a row, which has helped wage growth and retail consumption increase in year-over-year comparisons.

Couple that with an unemployment rate that has been holding steady or dropping nationally and in many localities, and consumer confidence is on the rise.

Porembo and Chies agree that consumer confidence is on the rise.

“As the economy improves, home sales tend to go up,” Chies said. “It isn’t much more complex than that right now.

“Rising mortgage rates could slow growth eventually, but rate increases should be thought of as little more than a byproduct of a stronger economy and stronger demand,” said Chies.

Closed sales declined 4.4 percent in February to 433 houses sold, compared to 453 in February 2016.

Closed sales declined 10.8 percent in January to 412 houses sold, compared to 462 in January 2016.

Closed sales declined 3.5 percent in December 2016 to 601 houses sold, compared to 623 in December 2015.

In Carbon County, the median sales price rose 37.2 percent to $112,500. Closed sales were down 13.6 percent, and inventory levels shrank 36.4 percent to 278 units. Months Supply of Inventory was down 42 percent to 5.8 months. Days on Market decreased 22 percent to 99 days.

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