House sales in York, Adams counties soar in 2020

Paula Wolf, Contributing Writer//January 19, 2021

House sales in York, Adams counties soar in 2020

Paula Wolf, Contributing Writer//January 19, 2021

In the midst of a once-a-century worldwide pandemic, home sales in York County set an annual record in 2020, and came close to doing the same in Adams County as well.

Real estate agents sold 6,696 houses in York County last year, 4% more than in 2019. The total dollar volume exceeded $1.4 billion, reflecting a 12% increase compared with 2019 sales.

In Adams County, 1,253 home sales were closed in 2020, only eight fewer than the record set in 2018 and 2% more than last year. The total dollar volume sold in 2020 was $302.7 million, a 10% jump from the previous year.

The data is from year-end reports by the Realtors Association of York and Adams counties.

Despite a nine-week government shutdown of in-person real estate activity, 2020 also produced the highest annual median sales price in the history of the two counties. In York, it rose 8% to $200,000, making it 32% growth in the past five years.

In Adams, the median home price was $224,000, a 12% more than in 2019 and a 28% increase in five years.

Also, the median days on the market for a York County house was 10 days, turning 2020 into the fastest moving real estate market in the county’s history.

The same can be said for Adams County, which in 2020 reported 17 as median days on the market, the lowest in its history.

Tina Llorente, president of the Realtors Association of York and Adams counties, said in a release that three factors “set the tone for 2020 real estate sales: increased buyer demand, record low mortgage interest rates and a lack of inventory.”

“As we move into 2021, the real estate market continues with those same three trends.”

In an email, Llorente followed up with more explanation for these and other trends.

She wrote that 58.7% of all homes have at least 60% equity and 42.1% “are owned free and clear.”

“These two stats alone mean that sellers are able to have choices they haven’t had in years – do they want to relocate? Downsize? Move to their ‘forever home’? This huge buffer has helped to protect sellers from financial difficulties during the pandemic and provide generational lows in foreclosure rates,” she wrote.

In York County last year, foreclosure filings fell to 275, well under the 825 recorded in 2019. Foreclosure filings in Adams County dropped from 165 to 59.

Llorente also noted that folks are moving from dense, urban areas to York and Adams counties because of COVID-19, the desire for a less hectic lifestyle and other reasons.

“Low inventory will likely continue into 2021 as builders try to keep up with demand,” she wrote. “Typical rule of thumb is one housing permit for every two jobs created. So with a sluggish economy, housing starts are lower.”

And more people working from home because of the pandemic has added a new dimension to what buyers want/need in a home, Llorente added. “Gone is the ‘tiny home’ craze of a few years ago. Folks now need dedicated home offices with Wi-Fi as well as space for kids to homeschool.”

In addition, homeowners are staying in their houses longer – “up from the average of seven years to 10-12 years depending on the data you look at, which means fewer resale homes coming onto the market,” she said.

Plus, homeowners are using their equity to renovate rather than move, contributing to the shortage of inventory.

As for the appeal of historically low mortgage interest rates, Llorente wrote, “Who wouldn’t want to pay less for their home?”

Investing in a property right now is another way to take advantage of the market, she said.

Here are some other highlights from the year-end reports:

  • In December, 642 houses were sold in York County, 23% more than the year before. In Adams County, the total was 118, up 1% over 2019.
  • The median sales price in Adams County was $227,000, up 10% from this time last year. In York County, the median sale price was $201,000, an 8% increase.
  • In 2020, 10% of the homes sold in York County were priced under $100,000, 41% from $100,000 to $199,999, 33% from $200,000 to $299,999 and 16% from $300,000 and over.
  • In Adams County last year, 7% of the homes sold were under $100,000; 33% were from $100,000 to $200,000; 36% from $200,001 to $300,000; and 24% were more than $300,000.