Lehigh Valley

Pending home sales down nationally, but up in the Lehigh Valley

Pending home sales across the nation unexpectedly dropped in January of 2017, but some regions saw growth, particularly the Lehigh Valley.

According to the National Association of Realtors Pending Home Sales Index, Americans across the country signed the lowest number of home sales contracts since January 2016, with sales decreasing 2.8%.

The NAR, which calls itself America's largest trade association, describes a home sale as pending “when the contract has been signed but the transaction has not closed.”

NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun said in a press release, “The significant shortage of listings last month along with deteriorating affordability as the result of higher home prices and mortgage rates kept many would-be buyers at bay.”

The NAR also stressed that interest in buying homes is the greatest it has been since the Great Recession, but that “challenging supply shortages...continue to run up prices in many areas.”

The statistics vary widely across different regions of the United States, according to the NAR's index.

The West fared the worst, with pending sales dropping 9.8% in January, followed by the Midwest, which saw a sales drop of 5%.

Things were better, however, in the South where sales rose a slight 0.4%, and in the Northeast, where sales jumped 2.3%.

The market in the Greater Lehigh Valley, though, is apparently performing quite strongly in comparison.

Pending sales in the Lehigh Valley were up in January, as they have been for 9 of the last 12 months. According to Greater Lehigh Valley Realtors, the area saw a 15.8% increase in pending sales last month, from 505 to 585.

Justin Porembo, GLVR's CEO, attributes the gain to mild weather this winter.

He notes, however, that new listings dropped 5.5% in January to 732, and that inventory levels have shrunk 43.4% in the last year, which he says indicates a low stock of homes out there for people who are looking.

Porembo notes that inventory is currently matching buyer wants and needs, but he adds, “We're hoping 2017 brings in some new construction, offering more choices to consumers in the Valley.”

In a recent press release, the President of GLVR Cass Chies also struck an optimistic tone about real estate in the Lehigh Valley, while also referencing the ongoing issues with inventory.

“Wages are on the uptick for many Americans, while unemployment rates have remained stable and relatively unchanged for several months,” he says.

“The system is ripe for more home purchasing if there are more homes available to sell.”

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