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Realtor: Carbon market shows promise

Published April 20. 2018 10:22PM

While the Lehigh Valley at large is experiencing a slow start in the spring housing sales, Carbon County is showing promise for a strong seller’s market.

According to the Greater Lehigh Valley Realtors March data, pending sales in Carbon County have gone up to 72, a 50 percent increase over last March. New listings have gone up to 81.

Overall inventory levels have dropped by 8.5 percent to 279 units, with a median sales price decreased to $89,900.

“There’s a huge interest in our area today,” Cass Chies, broker-owner of RE/MAX Diamond 1st in Palmerton, said. “We have homes that are going on the market, and they’re getting offers within a few days. There are plenty of buyers out there.”

Even with the Carbon County sales price drop — which Chies explained is the result of some lower-end home sales, rather than a decrease in the asking price — the are appears to be headed in a positive direction.

The GLVR’s report indicated high buyer activity, and sellers receiving an average of 98.3 percent of list prices throughout the area. The organization’s leadership suggested that these indicators should entice more sellers to list their homes.

At the moment, the Carbon County market is in favor of the seller, with indications that sales prices could increase.

“Economic indicators such as unemployment rates and consumer confidence are in an improved state, and sellers currently hold the keys in the buyer-seller relationship,” GLVR CEO Justin Porembo said.

“Buyer demand has remained strong enough to keep prices on the rise, which should continue for the foreseeable future. Housing is proving its resiliency in a consistently improving.”

With more and more people moving from major metropolitan areas to get better deals for their dollar, the ball could remain in the seller’s court for a while yet.

“I think it’s going to hold steady for a while. You have to have a landslide of people listing for a change to a buyer’s market,” Chies said.

On the other side of the sales spectrum, obtaining funding for a home purchase may become a bit more costly, as the Federal Reserve increased its key short-term interest rate by 0.25 percent in March, citing inflation as a concern. This is the Federal Reserve’s sixth increase since December 2015, and at least two more increases are expected for 2018.

“Borrowing money will be more expensive, particularly for home equity loans, credit cards and adjustable rate mortgages, but rising wages and a low national unemployment rate that has been at 4.1 percent for five months in a row would seem to indicate that we are prepared for this,” Sean LaSalle, 2018 president of GLVR, said.

“Having the financial ability to make a move clearly seems feasible to many eager buyers amid a healthy economy, whether life events such as marriage, children, employment change or desirable downsizing is the reason for moving.”

As for the time being, Chies is predicting that even with the increased interest rates, more people will flock to Carbon County to take advantage of the overall low prices and plentiful options that were so prevalent in the past.

“I actually see the Carbon County real estate market coming back to the way it was in 1992,” she said. “It’s going to be a vibrant seller’s market.”

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