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Housing data buoyed by low unemployment but inventory levels continue to drop

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The Greater Lehigh Valley Realtors reported November data shows inventory remains a challenge.
The Greater Lehigh Valley Realtors reported November data shows inventory remains a challenge. - (Photo / )

Low unemployment continues to benefit home sales and new listings in the real estate industry, while inventory shrinks with the lack of new construction.

That’s according to the reported data for November from the Greater Lehigh Valley Realtors.

Low unemployment has been fueling the housing market all year long, said Sean LaSalle, president of GLVR.

“When people are working, they have more money for a down payment, they are able to save money,” LaSalle said.

However, low inventory remains challenging.

“We still struggle with inventory,” LaSalle said. “Inventory has been low all year.”

Inventory levels shrank 8.6 percent to 1,935, the months’ supply down 10 percent to 2.7 months.

“The result of low inventory drives the average sale price up of houses,” LaSalle said. “As far as affordability goes, it’s still a very affordable time to buy a house.”

Prices in November continued to gain traction, according to the report.

The median sales price increased 5.4 percent to $195,000. Homes lasted an average of 39 days on the market, down 9.3 percent.

National factors, such as an expected decline in interest rate increases, also are helping keep home prices affordable, according to LaSalle.

“Interest rates are still historically low,” LaSalle said. “It looks like the Fed put the brakes on raising interest rates, that will help continue to allow buyers to afford a home.”

New listings decreased 7 percent to 674, while pending sales were up 1.3 percent to 609. Closed sales shrank 3.6 percent to 669.

In Carbon County, inventory increased 15.2 percent to 348, while months’ supply remained steady at 0.0 percent to 5.9. the median sales price increased 24.9 percent to $149,000 and pending sales climbed 12.5 percent to 54.

Looking at the months ahead, the housing industry should continue to see steady buyer growth.

“We should see a continued flow of buyers through the winter,” LaSalle said.

While low inventory continues to hamper the housing industry, LaSalle said there should be an uptick in available inventory with more permits for new housing construction approved.

“I think there’s definitely been an increase in new construction starts but not to where it needs to be and where it has been in the past,” LaSalle said. “New construction permits are up year over year but it’s not at the level that we need.”

With strong buyer demand, there’s still fewer houses available on the market.

It takes years to build a new housing development, mainly because of the slow permit and approval process, according to LaSalle.

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Brian Pedersen

Brian Pedersen

Reporter Brian Pedersen covers construction, development, warehousing and real estate and keeps you up to date on the changing landscape of our community. He can be reached at brianp@lvb.com or 610-807-9619, ext. 4108. Follow him on Twitter @BrianLehigh and read his blog, “Can You Dig It,” at http://www.lvb.com/section/can-you-dig-it.

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