As the main source of real estate information in the Lehigh Valley, the Greater Lehigh Valley Association of REALTORS® is pleased to provide in-depth data on our local housing market. Information is gathered from our Multiple Listing Service (MLS) generating data from over 2,000 Realtor® members.
Normal Spring increases in sales activity, coupled with relaxing COVID-19 policies, created a very busy March real estate market as buyer demand continued largely unabated in the face of rising home prices and mortgage rates. Existing home seller and new construction activity continue to remain below levels necessary to bring the market back into balance, pointing to a busy and competitive buyer market in the coming months.
New Listings increased 15.5% to 840. Pending Sales were up 37.1% to 758. Inventory levels shrank 55.1% to 556 units.
Prices continued to gain traction. The Median Sales Price increased 14.3% to $240,000. Days on Market was down 44.2% to 24 days. Sellers were encouraged as Months Supply of Inventory was down 55.6% to 0.8 months.
While many housebuilders are working to increase their activity, the cost of lumber and other materials and a backlogged supply chain continue to limit new home construction and have increased costs substantially. New methods of construction, including 3D printed homes, could speed construction and reduce costs in the future, but realistically are several years away from making a measurable impact in the market.
Mortgage interest rates ticked a bit higher in February, but remain below their February 2020 levels. Interest rates may rise a bit further in coming weeks, but according to Freddie Mac chief economist Sam Khater, "while there are multiple temporary factors driving up rates, the underlying economic fundamentals point to rates remaining in the low 3% range for the year. With rates still at historically low levels, home sales are unlikely to be significantly impacted, though higher rates do impact affordability.
New Listings decreased 28.5% to 501. Pending Sales were down 19.0% to 490. Inventory levels shrank 58.4% to 516 units.
Prices continued to gain traction. The Median Sales Price increased 14.4% to $230,000. Days on Market was down 54.9% to 23 days. Sellers were encouraged as Months Supply of Inventory was down 58.4% to 0.7 months.
For homeowners currently struggling due to COVID-19, government agencies are continuing efforts to help those in need. The Federal Housing Finance Agency announced they will allow homeowners with loans backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to receive an additional three months of forbearance, extending total payment relief up to 18 months. Qualified homeowners must already be in a forbearance plan as of the end of February.
January started off strong for the housing market, with healthy buyer demand and strong market fundamentals. A robust increase in housing starts in December points to an active year for new construction, but higher material costs, especially lumber, and a limited supply of buildable lots will temper the number of new units.
New Listings decreased 10.2% to 590. Pending Sales were up 3.0% to 592. Inventory levels shrank 56.3 to 567 units.
Prices continued to gain traction. The Median Sales Price increased 27.0% to $234,900. Days on Market was down 46.3% to 22 days. Sellers were encouraged as Months Supply of Inventory was down 55.6% to 0.8 months.
The Mortgage Bankers Association's January research estimates approximately 2.7 million homeowners with mortgages are currently in forbearance plans. Some of these homes may eventually come to market, but given the strong appreciation in most market segments in recent years, these eventual home sales are likely to be mostly traditional sellers. However, a modest increase in short sales and foreclosures at some point this year would not be surprising.
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*Courtesy of the Greater Lehigh Valley Association of REALTORS®