First quarter real estate in review
We were looking at our internal data for countywide home sales stats in the midstate for the first quarter of 2014 and how we're stacking up against last year this time.
The big number, of course, is home sales. For that the region is down 6% over last year – the lingering effects of a heavy winter, I believe. Lebanon County posted the strongest growth at a 10% increase over 2013. Only two counties posted increases – Dauphin and Lebanon.
Home prices were another matter. In total, sale prices climbed 3% over the first quarter of 2013, and here Adams County posted the biggest increase, of 16%. Only two counties saw a decrease in the average sale price during the first three month - Lebanon at 4% and Perry at 2%. Of course, home prices were not as affected by the long winter. Lancaster home listings stayed on the market the shortest time on average, at 76 days. The regional average is 102 days on market, up 1% from last year.
Lastly, new listings are down 6% and pending sales down 4% for the first quarter, which are the most troubling indicators and would seem to show a contracting market. However, all the anecdotal data I’m hearing from agents on the street is that homes are going “under agreement” quickly, even before a few showings are over.
My initial take from all this data is that the first rush of pent-up home seller activity from the tough economic years is now over, and the new sellers are a)fewer and b)more price-savvy. What we need to watch for is a confirmation of the street talk and a reversal in the pending home sales trend to really predict where the market will go in summer 2014.