Lehigh Valley Housing Market: A Decade of Growth

by Mallory Siegfried

The median sales price of a home in Northampton and Lehigh counties jumped an average of 28% or $50,225 in the past 10 years, according to data from the Greater Lehigh Valley REALTORS®. If you bought a home within the past decade in the Lehigh Valley, this means your home is likely worth a lot more than what you initially paid. 

The property value boon can be attributed to a region that’s deeply rooted in the national housing inventory crisis. A lack of inventory across the Lehigh Valley is leading to significant bidding wars, with sellers receiving, on average, 102.0% of their listing price. The low inventory – with levels shrinking in August by 18.8% to 812 units – led to homes selling in just 14 days (one day above the record low of 13 days, which was recorded in July). 

Compounding the inventory crunch, the coronavirus pandemic brought a wave of individuals and families from neighboring states, such as New Jersey and New York, looking to leave behind high-occupancy locations in search of more rural living. Philadelphia, New Jersey, and New York workers found the Lehigh Valley to be a perfectly positioned go-between to work remotely – something expected to continue post-pandemic – maybe just not at such a frenzied pace. 

The overall hike can also be largely attributed to the overall growth and large development in the region. The proximity to major entertainment facilities, such as Coca-Cola Park and the PPL Center in Allentown, has made the region more attractive to buyers. The Lehigh Valley has only become more valuable over time. We don’t expect that to slow down, even for a second. 

So, that leads us back to the numbers. 

In looking at the overall past decade, the largest median price increases for Northampton County were in: 

  • Glendon Borough, the median home priced at $103,500 in 2010, rose about 129% to $237,500 in 2020 
  • Tatamy, the median home priced at $155,000 in 2010 rose about 195% to $457,498 in 2020 
  • Upper Mount Bethel Township, the median home priced at $147,250 in 2010, rose about 85% to $272,000 in 2020 

In Lehigh County, the largest median price increases from 2010 to 2020 were in: 

  • Lower Milford Township, the median home priced at $275,000 in 2010, rose about 82% to about $500,000 in 2020 
  • Washington Township, the median home priced at $189,000 in 2010, rose about 55% to about $292,750 in 2020 
  • Macungie, the median home priced at $167,500 in 2010, rose about 55% to about $260,250 in 2020 

In Northampton County, the smallest median price increases from 2010 to 2020 were in: 

  • Allen Township, which increased about 5% 
  • Plainfield Township, which increased about 12% 
  • Pen Argyl, which increased about 14% 

In Lehigh County, the smallest median price increases from 2010 to 2020 were in: 

  • Hanover Township, which increased about 0.13% 
  • Lowhill Township, which increased about 3% 
  • North Whitehall Township, which increased about 8% 

As for towns that saw decreases, Chapman Borough saw a slight decrease in overall median sales value (with no sales data available for 2010, 2015, or 2019) at about 17%. So did Upper Nazareth Township, decreasing by about 7% in median value from $305,000 in 2010 to $282,500 in 2020. There were no decreases at all in median sales prices overall from 2010 to 2020 in Lehigh County. 

Should individuals and families live in towns with smaller increases or slight decreases worry? No, according to Tim Tepes, president of the Greater Lehigh Valley REALTORS® and co-owner of Assist 2 Sell Buyers & Sellers Realty in Northampton Borough. 

Plainfield Township, which is similar to Lowhill Township, is rural with its open land and older farms. The small increase in median value in both townships is mainly due to the lack of any major subdivisions or newer construction projects. 

Upper Nazareth completed its major subdivision, Eagles Landing, about two to three years ago, Tepes said. 

“Prices were booming, and then things leveled off as the homes were sold and the project ended,” Tepes said of Upper Nazareth. 

Tepes believes the township’s age 55-and-over cottage community, Heritage Village by Morningstar Senior Living Inc., might be playing a role in the overall decreased median value data. That project was completed in Upper Nazareth about two years ago. 

“The housing options costs were not nearly as high as the larger, single-family development of Eagles Landing,” Tepes said. “The subdivision completion and lighter prices in the 55-plus community made it appear as though prices in Upper Nazareth had decreased, but the overall health of the community is clear and remains.” 

Tepes expects notoriously “sleepy areas,” such as Wind Gap in the Slate Belt, to start waking up with land available to build on. And, Tepes notes, many towns such as North Catasauqua Borough and the townships of East Allen, Palmer, and Forks all have significant development projects in the pipeline or have growth paths already created by the Route 33, Route 22, and Interstate 78 corridors. 

“New housing developments and commercial opportunities are plentiful, and they’re coming,” Tepes said. 

As we head into the next decade, we may wonder: Will bidding wars continue? Will home prices stay elevated? Will home buyer demand remain strong? 

Well, we’ll see. COVID-19 remains a wild card for the housing market. That said, as we head into the current fall season, economists are optimistic about the market’s direction considering its unpredictability since the beginning of the pandemic. 

For the most part, they agree there won’t be a return to the usual slowing pace of sales in the fall – nor will prices slide to the extent typical of the season as families settle into a new school year. 

REALTORS® are Worth it! 

Numbers and data and statistics making your head spin? With years of bargaining experience and expert understanding of the market, REALTORS® can help you close the deal at the price and terms you want. Not to mention, homeowners who sell their homes on their own typically generate $24,400 less than homeowners who work with a REALTOR®. 

Need a REALTOR®? You can research and find a local REALTOR® at www.GLVR.org.

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