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January house sales down 5.7 percent in LV

The Greater Lehigh Valley Realtors (GLVR) reported that January data showed a flat, but stable, start to 2019 for house sales.

But the big story for the Lehigh Valley house market is that the average sales price and median sales price decreased in January, compared to January 2018.

Also, an increase in new listings may reverse a trend.

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. according to the GLVR.

Pending sales increased 0.9 percent in January, to 575 houses, up from 570 houses in January 2018.

New listings increased 6.8 percent in January, to 805 houses, up from 754 houses in January 2018.

Inventory levels again shrank, by 6.3 percent in January, to 1,612 units, down from 1,721 units in January 2018.

Days on the market were unchanged, 0.0 percent in January, or 47 days, the same as in January 2018.

The months supply of inventory again decreased in January, by 4.2 percent, or 2.3 months, compared to 2.4 months in January 2018.

The average sales price decreased 4.4 percent in January to $217,676, compared to $227,601 in January 2018.

The median sales price decreased 2.6 percent in January, to $185,000, compared to $189,900 in January 2018.

The percentage of list price received decreased slightly in January, down 0.8 percent to 96.7 percent, down from 97.5 percent in January 2018.

Therefore, the housing affordability index increased 1.2 percent, also reversing a trend.

The decline in house prices in January contrasts with house price increses in 2018.

The average sales price increased 5.2 percent, from $215,519 in 2017 to $226,643 in 2018.

The median sales price increased 7.6 percent, from $185,000 in 2017 to $199,000 in 2018.

The percentage of list price received increased 0.4 percent, from 97.7 percent in 2017 to 98.1 percent in 2018.

The housing affordability index decreased 11.3 percent in 2018, compared to 2017.

New listings were down 1.1 percent, or 11,481 in 2018, compared to 11,613 in 2017.

House market analysis

The January report, released Feb. 14, Valentine’s Day, by the GLVR, was somewhat of a love note to prospective house-buyers in the Lehigh Valley.

“While the home affordability topic will continue to set the tone for the 2019 housing market, early signs point to an improving inventory situation,” said GLVR President Carl Billera.

“As motivated sellers attempt to get a jump on annual goals, many new listings enter the market immediately after the turn of a calendar year.

“If home price appreciation falls more in line with wage growth, and rates can hold firm, consumer confidence and affordability are likely to improve,” Billera said.

According the the GLVR January report, “Despite a strong United States economy, historically low unemployment and steady wage growth, home sales began to slow across the nation late last year.

“Blame was given to a combination of high prices and a steady stream of interest rate hikes by the Federal Reserve.

“In a move described as a patient approach to further rate changes, the Fed did not increase rates during January 2019,” the report stated.

“While the soft start can partly be blamed on a growing affordability conundrum as prices and interest rates have steadily climbed, there is the usual winter slowdown that we commonly see here in the Lehigh Valley,” said GLVR CEO Justin Porembo.

“We expect 2019 to only get better from here,” Porembo said.

Carbon County

In Carbon County, new listings decreased just two properties to 91.

The median sales price dropped to $123,000.

Pending sales climbed to 58.

There was a slight increase in inventory, which was up to 329 units.

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 (MLS) and the Greater Lehigh Valley Real Estate Academy.

Information: GreaterLehighValleyRealtors.com