Lehigh Valley

Renting gaining ground on home ownership in Lehigh Valley

Planning commission reports on housing trends

ALLENTOWN, Pa. - Increasingly, people moving into the Lehigh Valley are choosing to rent rather than purchase homes, according to this year’s Lehigh Valley Planning Commission housing market report.

Home ownership has slowly decreased in the valley since 2012, according to the report, which includes data up to 2016 and was presented to members of the commission on Thursday night at the LVPC’s monthly meeting.

It shows that from 2012 to 2016, the amount of Lehigh Valley residents choosing to rent increased by 6,561 renters, while the amount of homeowners in the region decreased by 3,923. 

Owning a home is still the most popular living option in the Lehigh Valley, with the area’s 169,000 homeowners making up 68 percent of the home market, but the percentage of renters has increased every single year since 2012, with nearly 79,000 Lehigh Valley residents renting rather than owning their residence, according to the report. 

“What we’re looking at is really that home ownership isn’t necessarily decreasing dramatically — and we’re not losing homeowners to rental units. More so it’s likely that the majority of people that are coming to the Lehigh Valley, or young people who are looking to move out of their parents’ house and live on their own, are increasingly choosing to rent instead of own,” said Jillian Seitz, a community planner with the LVPC.

The majority of rent prices in the Lehigh Valley remain in between $500 and $1,500, the report shows.

Becky Bradley, the LVPC’s executive director, said that the federal government believes there will not be as much of a market for home ownership due to entry barriers such as lending regulations. She told the commission they should prepare for an increased number of renters in the coming years. 

“We should expect to see a sharp increase in rentals over the next 30 to 40 years,” she said.

The report also explores the most popular types of homes owned in the Lehigh Valley, with single-family, detached homes the most preferred house type in the region. The report shows the percentage of each housing type sold in 2016, along with the median price for each.

  • Single-family, detached: 63 percent, at a median price of $211,000
  • Single-family, attached: 27 percent, at a median price of $125,000
  • Condos: 7 percent, at a median price of $185,000
  • Multi-family, attached: 3 percent, at a median price of $139,000

“Single-family, detached homes remain the most popular housing type for homeowners, followed by single-family attached,” Steiz said. “These proportions for housing sales types have remained relatively consistent year to year.” 

Median school district prices for 2016 are also included, with Southern Lehigh School District having the highest median home price of $239,500, followed by, in descending order, Parkland, Northwestern Lehigh and East Penn.

The data included in the report came from the Lehigh and Northampton county GIS and Assessment departments. The housing sales numbers were acquired from the Census Bureau’s American Community survey, according to Steiz.  

The full report can be viewed on the LVPC’s data website, as can an interactive map showing sales trends in school districts and municipalities across the Lehigh Valley.

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