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January LV house sales down 4.7 percent

Sales of houses in the Lehigh Valley started off the new year on a down note, declining in the first month.

Closed sales for houses in the Lehigh Valley decreased 4.7 percent in January, with 446 houses sold, compared to 468 houses sold in January 2019, according to the Greater Lehigh Valley Realtors (GLVR) monthly report released Feb. 13.

This compares to closed sales for houses in the Lehigh Valley that increased 10.2 percent in December 2019 with 626 houses sold, compared to 568 houses sold in December 2018, according to the GLVR.

Closed sales for 2019 were up slightly, 1.7 percent, to 8,587, compared to 8,445 in 2018.

In 2019, closed sales decreased in seven months, increased in four months and were flat in one month.

Closed sales decreased in November, October, August, July, March, February and January, increased in December, September, May and April, and were flat in June for 2019.

The percentage of pending sales increased by double digits in January, up 15 percent to 613 houses, compared to 533 houses in January 2019.

New listings again decreased, this time by double digits, down 20.8 percent in January to 644 houses, compared to 813 houses in January 2019.

The average sales price decreased, down 2.6 percent in January to $211,777, compared to $217,403 in January 2019.

The median sales price was unchanged, at 0.0 percent in January to $185,000, compared to $185,000 in January 2019.

Inventory decreased significantly, again by double digits, down 34.8 percent in January to 1,138 units, compared to 1,745 units in January 2019.

Days on the market decreased, down 14.9 percent in January to 40 days, compared to 47 days in January 2019.

The months’ supply of inventory decreased significantly, again by double digits, down 36 percent in January to 1.6 months, compared to 2.5 months in January 2019.

The percentage of list price received increased slightly, up 0.7 percent in January to 97.4 percent, compared to 96.7 percent in January 2019.

The housing affordability index increased significantly, up 10.1 percent in January, compared to January 2019.

Market analysis

The GLVR reported that January data showed tight inventory continues to constrain buyer activity.

New construction is still below levels required to fully supply the Lehigh Valley market, which continues to lean heavily toward a seller’s market.

The months supply of inventory for Lehigh and Northampton counties in January came in at just 1.6 months, beating December’s one-month record for lowest months supply of inventory since GLVR began tracking statistical housing data in 1996.

In a housing market balanced between buyers and sellers, the months supply of inventory should be between six and seven months, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR).

This means that at January’s sales pace, it would take 1.6 months to sell all the homes on the market in the Lehigh Valley, according to the GLVR.

“We’re optimistic and locally can see the growth in new-home construction,” said GLVR CEO Justin Porembo.

“However, we would like to see home builders bring more affordable units to the market to help ease shortages and slow price gains in that segment,” Porembo said.

Despite the squeeze on inventory, the 2020 housing market has a hopeful outlook, according to the GLVR.

“We’re starting off the year with continued low interest rates, low unemployment, and rising rents nationally,” said GLVR President Jack Gross.

“These factors should encourage healthy buyer demand and sets us up for a strong start to the 2020 housing market and a lot of optimism for the coming spring market,” Gross said.

For 2020, NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun sees good news for home prices.

“National median home price growth is in no danger of falling due to inventory shortages and will rise by 4 percent,” said Yun, long-term NAR economist.

Yun expects new-home construction market sales to increase 10 percent.

Carbon County

In Carbon County, the median sales price remained fairly steady, decreasing 0.2 percent to $122,750 in January.

Closed sales increased to 50 in January.

Pending sales increased to 76 in January.

New listings decreased to 67 in January.

Inventory decreased to 237 units in January.

The months supply of inventory was 3.5 months in January.

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