Chairman's Report 2016 Issue 3: Lehigh Valley

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The World, Our Neighborhoods, and In-Between

Listen to the news, and the headlines make it very clear that we live in a global age of uncertainty. Yet despite our interconnection with places far and wide, our own corner of the world is where we remain grounded. I’m often asked how the perception of turmoil in our country and the world affects our local real estate market.

My answer is: while our area is full of vibrant communities and brisk commerce, when it comes down to it, our region is a small part of the world. Small, but strong. We have an exceptional local economy situated in the strongest economy in the world — the United States. Job and income growth are solid, and those key factors matter most in the local real estate market.

The evidence for this vibrancy is in the numbers. In the first six months of this year, real estate sales in the Lehigh Valley increased 12.6% over the first six months of 2015. Overall, unit sales have doubled since their lowest point in 2011. That is a big recovery.

Home prices, on the other hand, depend greatly upon location and price range. The average increase throughout the Lehigh Valley is 1.1%, according to the Federal Home Finance Agency. Your BHHS Fox & Roach, REALTORS® sales associate can give you guidance about individual locations and price ranges.

Though the number of houses sold is 19% above the 2007 peak, the number of houses for sale has decreased by 44%. The result is a seller’s market, and with the exception of homes in the upper price ranges, properties are selling quickly. Many of our sales associates report that there would be even more sales, if there were more houses to sell!

So why aren’t there more houses for sale? Though we are in the midst of a slow but steady recovery, damage from the Great Recession lingers. Many buyers who purchased a home near the peak still do not have enough equity to sell their current home and purchase a new one. Others remain less confident about their own financial situations, and continue to wait for a time when they feel more secure.

But for those whose life circumstances have created the need or desire for a new home, this is a great time to sell and move up. There are buyers out there waiting to purchase a home, and interest rates continue at historic lows. And the concept of timing has changed. Residential real estate market activity used to be seasonal, with most people buying and selling in the spring. These days, it’s not about the time of year, but about when it is the best time for you. And if that time is now, it’s better to act now, because it’s impossible to know what conditions will be like next spring. (After all, no one thought Brexit would happen, but it did.)

I do expect we will continue to see a good market for the rest of the year. It may not be as robust as the first six months of 2016, because at some point, most of the pent-up demand for homes will be largely satisfied, and sales will resume a more realistic pace. We just don’t know when that will occur.

If the time is right for you to consider a move, contact your BHHS Fox & Roach, REALTORS® sales associate today. And before you start looking for a home, pre-apply for a mortgage with Trident Mortgage Company, a BHHS Fox & Roach, REALTORS® affiliate. This will give you a real sense of what you are comfortable paying, plus it will make any offer you submit stronger than most competing offers. Your Trident mortgage consultant is ready to guide you through this process.

When it comes to buying and selling, no one knows our corner of the world — your current neighborhood or the one you hope to move to — better than your BHHS Fox & Roach, REALTORS® sales associate.

Lawrence F. Flick, IV
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Fox & Roach, Realtors® and The Trident Group

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