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Low inventory partly to blame for hiccup in home sales

The Greater Lehigh Valley residential real estate market finally showed signs of cooling off in July, as agents cited low inventory and low post-agreement appraisals.

The Greater Lehigh Valley residential real estate market finally showed signs of cooling off in July, as agents cited low inventory and low post-agreement appraisals.

Year over year, monthly home sales fell 7.7 percent while new listings dropped 18.8 percent. While pending sales grew a modest 2.7 percent, average sales price regionally slid back by 1 percent to $161,099.

The sluggishness snapped six straight months of double-digit percentage increases in home sales, year over year.

“The market is good, but inventory is low,” said Larry Bonner, broker with Coldwell Banker Hearthside Realtors, Hellertown. “It’s very stable.”

Cass Chies, broker with RE/MAX Diamond 1st, Palmerton, called July an “awesome” month for her firm. Carbon County enjoyed a 35.1 percent increase in home sales when compared to July 2015.

“I wouldn’t say it’s record-breaking numbers, but we definitely finished stronger than we have probably since the mortgage meltdown in 2008 and ’09,” Chies said. “We are on our way to a healthier market.”

July’s numbers in the Lehigh Valley showed 11.4 percent fewer closed sales but a 13.4 percent increase in pending sales.

“Interest rates are still low,” Bonner said. “Buyers are looking to buy. The market has caught up to some sellers in the sense that their homes are even at least with what they paid, if not maybe above where they were several years ago.”

Bonner sees the market moving in the right direction but anticipates a shortage of inventory.

“The biggest red flag is the entry housing for buyers,” he said. “It’s almost impossible to find anything under $200,000 in the new home category for buyers.”

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