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‘Soft start to spring season’: LV house sales down again

House sales declined for the third straight month, putting sales in negative territory for the first quarter of 2019 compared to house sales for the same three months one year ago.

Greater Lehigh Valley Realtors (GLVR) officials report that March data “showed a soft start to the spring selling season.”

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, according to the Greater Lehigh Valley Realtors (GLVR) monthly report released April 15.

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.

Closed sales for the first quarter of 2019 are down 3.8 percent, to 1,504, down from 1,563 for the first quarter of 2018.

However, in a positive trend, there was a double-digit increase in pending sales, up 13.3 percent in March, to 819 houses, up from 723 houses in March 2018.

New listings increased, also a good sign, by 4.3 percent in March to 944 houses, up from 905 houses in March 2018.

The average sales price decreased 2.2 percent in March to $225,036, compared to $230,156 in March 2018.

The median sales price decreased 5 percent in March to $189,950, compared to $200,000 in March 2018.

Inventory levels again shrank, by 7.2 percent in March to 1,521 units, down from 1,639 units in March 2018.

Days on the market again increased, up 3.8 percent in March or 54 days, up from 52 days in March 2018.

The months supply of inventory again decreased, down 8.7 percent in March to or 2.1 months, compared to 2.3 months in March 2018.

The percentage of list price received again decreased slightly, down 0.8 percent in March to 97.5 percent, down from 98.3 percent in March 2018.

On a bright note, the housing affordability index increased 7 percent in March.

Market analysis

“New listings and total homes for sale have been trending lower in year-over-year comparisons in many areas,” said GLVR CEO Justin Porembo.

“Locally, we’re seeing the same, but our numbers are holding steady with no major declines or increases,” Porembo said.

The GLVR noted that prices in March softened 5 percent to $189,950, while homes continued to sell quickly, lasting, on average, 54 days on the market.

Inventory levels shrank 7.2 percent to 1,521 units, leading to a months supply of inventory that dropped 8.7 percent to 2.1 months.

“There is still a lot of 2019 left to go, so we’re unconcerned by the slow start to the spring market,” said GLVR President Carl Billera.

“Local Realtors are excited and ready for the usual flood of activity as the weather continues to improve,” Billera said.

The GLVR March report furthur stated:

“In addition to the quandary of ongoing housing price increases and affordability concerns in many U.S. markets, the first quarter of 2019 saw a fair share of adverse weather, as well.

“Sales totals were mixed across the nation and sometimes dependent on what was a persistent wintry mix, especially in the Great Plains, Midwest and Northeast,” the GLVR March report stated.

“Meanwhile, new listings and total homes for sale have been trending lower in year-over-year comparisons in many areas, and last year’s marks were already quite low,” stated the March report.

“Prices were a tad soft. Sellers were encouraged as the months supply of inventory was down 8.7 percent to 2.1 months,” according to the report.

“The Federal Reserve recently announced that no further interest rate hikes are planned for 2019.

“Given the fact that the federal funds rate has increased nine times over the past three years, this was welcome news for U.S. consumers, which carry an approximate average of $6,000 in revolving credit card debt per household.

“Fed actions also tend to affect mortgage rates, so the pause in rate hikes was also welcome news to the residential real estate industry,” the GLVR March report concluded.

Carbon County

In Carbon County, new listings increased to 90 in March, according to the GLVR report.

The median sales price increased to $123,750.

Pending sales increased to 86.

There was a slight increase in inventory at 300 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 and the Greater Lehigh Valley Real Estate Academy.

Information: GreaterLehighValleyRealtors.com