As the premier source of real estate information in the Lehigh Valley and its surrounding communities, the Greater Lehigh Valley REALTORS® (GLVR) is pleased to provide an in-depth report on the 2019 local housing market.
The information that follows is an overall look at the 2019 housing market, in addition to predictions for 2020.
2019: The Year of Strong Economy, Low Unemployment Rates, Still No Inventory
The 2019 housing market was fueled by the overall strength of the economy across most of the country. The stock markets reached new highs throughout the year, improving the asset bases of millions of Americans. Unemployment rates fell to 50-year lows, while wages increased, creating new home buyers. Mortgage rates also declined significantly from 2018, helping to offset affordability stresses caused by the continued price appreciation.
With a strong economy and low mortgage rates, buyer activity has been strong. However, most markets, including the Lehigh Valley, are being constrained by inventory levels that are still below historic norms. With supply and demand continuing to favor sellers, prices continue to rise. Locally, July saw a record-setting Median Sales Price of $222,000.
Another record broken for the Lehigh Valley was the Month’s Supply of Inventory. In December, the Month’s Supply of Inventory for Lehigh and Northampton counties came in at just 1.8 months, the lowest Months’ Supply of Inventory since GLVR began tracking statistical housing data in 1996 (Note: This record was broken in January, with the first month of 2020 tracking a Month’s Supply of Inventory of 1.6 months). In a housing market balanced between buyers and sellers, the Month’s Supply of Inventory is between six and seven months, according to the National Association of REALTORS®. This means that at December’s or January’s sales pace, it would take 1.8 or 1.6 months, respectively, to sell all the homes on the market in the Lehigh Valley.
Digging Deeper into 2019 and the Numbers
(Lehigh and Northampton counties)
SALES: Pending sales increased 2.7 percent, finishing 2019 at 8,678. Closed sales were up 1.7 percent to end the year at 8,587.
LISTINGS: Comparing 2019 to the prior year, the number of homes available for sale was lower by 25.4 percent. There were 1,284 active listings at the end of 2019. New listings decreased by 5.2 percent to finish the year at 10,904.
INVENTORY: Inventory levels shrank 25.4 percent to finish the year at 1,284 units. This led to a Month’s Supply of Inventory that was down 25.0 percent to 1.8 months. In a housing market balanced between buyers and sellers, the Month’s Supply of Inventory is between six and seven months.
PRICES: Home prices were up compared to last year. The overall median sales price increased 3.3 percent to $206,000 for the year. Single Family home prices were up 2.4 percent compared to last year, and townhouse-condo home prices were up 4.1 percent.
What to Expect in 2020
The housing market continues to remain healthy, with price gains and limited inventory being the most common threads across markets. Tight inventory continues to constrain buyer activity. New construction activity continues to improve but is still below levels required to supply the market’s needs fully.
As we look at 2020, we see continued low mortgage rates and a healthy economy giving a great start to housing in the new year. But in election years, we sometimes see a softening of activity that may temper the market in the second half of the year.
Full Annual Report
Curious to know what else the Annual Report contains? Contact a Realtor® today for more information or for a complete market analysis. You can find a Realtor® at www.GLVR.org.