Thursday, December 28, 2006

Lehigh Valley Housing Market continues to cool slowly

Home prices in the Lehigh Valley are retreating slightly after three blockbuster years in which homes appreciated 10 percent or more on average. At the peak of the housing market in 2005, homes sold in a matter of weeks. The market was bolstered by strong demand from home buyers moving to the Valley from more expensive towns in New York and New Jersey, and, to a lesser extent, the Philadelphia area.

Valley homes in the lower range continue to sell quickly. But houses in the mid to upper range are lingering on the market for a few months or more. On average, homes are staying on the market for 47 days, or about seven weeks. Compared with previous years when the market was sluggish, that's brisk. For example, in the fall of 2000, homes stayed on the market for 67 days on average.

But a year ago, homes were moving more quickly, with an average market time of less than six weeks.

The slowdown also has affected the price for newly constructed homes, which skyrocketed in recent years. The average price of a new four-bedroom home with 21/2 baths rose 1 percent in November to $388,000, compared with the same period last year.

Lehigh Valley real estate agents and others observers of the housing market stress the market for homes in the Lehigh Valley remains healthy . They say t he feverish pace of sales and the skyrocketing prices of the past three years was not the norm.

But many sellers are reluctant to lower asking prices despite the fact that homes are sitting longer than last year.

''I think if people are really serious, they have to take a hard look at what they are asking,'' said Lehigh Valley appraiser James Keim. ''For the most part, it has really leveled off.''

More here.

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