March 16, 2020

Months Supply of Inventory Dips Again; NAR Issues COVID-19 Guide for REALTORS®

The Greater Lehigh Valley REALTORS® (GLVR) reported February data showed tight inventory and another record low for Months Supply of Inventory.

GLVR Members: Click HERE to view the full Market Update report for February 2020.

The Lehigh Valley housing market leans heavily toward a seller’s market. The Months Supply of Inventory for Lehigh and Northampton counties in February came in at just 1.4 months, beating January’s one-month record for lowest Months Supply of Inventory since GLVR began tracking statistical housing data in 1996.

In a housing market balanced between buyers and sellers, the Months Supply of Inventory is between six and seven months, according to the National Association of REALTORS®. This means that at February’s sales pace, it would take 1.4 months to sell all the homes on the market in the Lehigh Valley.

The Lehigh Valley’s nearly 3,000 real estate professionals are reporting a pick-up in the market, with the spring housing market starting early, partly thanks to a less-than-harsh winter, according to GLVR CEO Justin Porembo.

"The recently released January ShowingTime Showing Index® saw a 20.2 percent year-over-year increase in showing traffic nationwide,” Porembo said. “As showing activity is a leading indicator for future home sales, the 2020 housing market is off to a strong start, though it will be important to watch the spread of COVID-19 and its potential impacts to the overall economy in the coming months.”

Notable Market Stats for February

Closed Sales were flat with a one-property change – 450 closed sales in February 2019 vs. 449 closed sales in February 2020. The Median Sales Price increased 8.0 percent to $199,999. Sellers were encouraged with the Percentage of List Price Received increasing 0.8 percent to 97.8 percent. Days on Market remained fast at 50 days.

New Listings decreased 2.4 percent to 691. Pending Sales were up 14.5 percent to 686. Inventory levels shrank 36.6 percent to 1,049 units, leading to a Months Supply of Inventory that was down 41.7 percent to 1.4 months.

In Carbon County, the Median Sales Price decreased 4.6 percent to $131,200. Closed Sales were down to 40. Pending Sales climbed to 76. There was a dip in New Listings, which came in at 71, and Inventory dropped to 222 units, leading to a Months Supply of Inventory of 3.2 months.

COVID-19 and Real Estate

In response to the growing concern regarding COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic, the Greater Lehigh Valley REALTORS® and the Greater Lehigh Valley Real Estate Academy, which the association owns and operates, are taking precautionary steps that include suspending non-essential travel for staff, cancelling all association events through April 10, and postponing all classes through and including March 27. These dates will be re-evaluated and extended, as needed.

When it comes to the housing market and COVID-19, the full impact remains to be seen. But, as GLVR President Jack Gross notes, there is a small silver lining for buyers.

“As we progressed through February, the actual and expected impacts of COVID-19 continued to grow, with concerns of economic impact reaching the stock market in the last week of the month,” Gross said. “As the stock market declined, so did mortgage rates, offering a bad news-good news situation. While short term declines in the stock market can sting, borrowers who lock in today’s low rates will benefit significantly in the long term.”

In regard to open houses, the National Association of REALTORS® suggests the following: REALTORS® should speak openly and honestly with their sellers about the pros and cons of holding an open house. Assess the risk based on specific location and direct clients to local and state health authorities for specific information about the severity of the risk in the area. REALTORS® could also propose alternative marketing opportunities for a seller's consideration, such as video tours and other methods to virtually tour a property. If open house is held, REALTORS® and sellers should consider requiring all visitors to disinfect their hands upon entering the home, limiting the amount of people in the home, and providing alcohol-based hand sanitizers at the entryway, as well as soap and disposable towels in bathrooms. After the open house, clients should clean and disinfect their home, especially commonly touched areas like doorknobs and faucet handles.

Economic Pulse Flash Survey

Nearly 1 in 4 home sellers nationwide are changing how their home is viewed while the home remains on the market due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, according to a new survey from the National Association of Realtors®. The changes include stopping open houses, requiring potential buyers to wash their hands or use hand sanitizer, asking buyers to remove shoes or wear footies, or other changes.

The National Association of REALTORS® Economic Pulse Flash Survey – conducted March 9-10, 2020 – asked members questions about how the coronavirus outbreak, including the significant declines in stock market values and mortgage interest rates, has impacted home buyer and seller interest and behavior. Several highlights of the member survey include:
 
  • 37% said lower mortgage rates excited home buyers much more than the stock market correction.
  • Almost 8 out of 10 (78%) said there has been no change in buyer interest due to the coronavirus.
  • Nearly 9 in 10 members (87%) said coronavirus has not affected the number of homes on the market.
  • 81% said they have not seen sellers remove their home from the market completely due to the coronavirus.
  • In Washington State and California, two of the states hardest hit by coronavirus, 5% and 4% of members, respectively, reported homes were removed from the market completely due to the coronavirus. That figure is 3% for members nationwide.

View NAR’s Economic Pulse Flash Survey full report here: https://www.nar.realtor/research-and-statistics/research-reports/nar-flash-survey-economic-pulse

Additional Coronavirus Resources for Real Estate Professionals