Lehigh Valley home prices climb as affordability drops  

Paula Wolf, Contributing Writer//May 17, 2022

Lehigh Valley home prices climb as affordability drops  

Paula Wolf, Contributing Writer//May 17, 2022

With housing inventory in the Lehigh Valley still tight, the median sales price in April rose nearly 14% from a year ago, matching the record high set in March. 

The $280,000 figure recorded last month in Lehigh and Northampton counties was up from $246,250 in April 2021, according to Greater Lehigh Valley Realtors, a trade association. 

Closed sales were down slightly from a year ago, declining from 624 to 616. 

Average days on market was 14 in April, reflecting continued strong demand, while the percentage of list price received rose to 103.3%. 

In less populous Carbon County, which the association also covers, the median sales price increased from $174,315 to $195,000, and average days on market was 31, down from 42 in April 2021. 

A release said the Lehigh Valley numbers show a spring market that would be busier if it weren’t “stymied by inventory, mortgage rates and other external economic factors. 

Freddie Mac reported last week that the average rate on a 30-year fixed mortgage climbed to 5.3%, up from 2.94% a year ago. 

That’s a major reason housing affordability fell from 145 to 100 in the Lehigh Valley over the past year. 

A higher number signifies greater affordability. For example, an index of 145 means the median household income is 145% of what is necessary to qualify for the median-priced home under prevailing interest rates. 

“All eyes are on the recent surge in mortgage rates, which have reduced the pool of eligible buyers and caused mortgage applications to decline,” Howard Schaeffer, 2022 president of the Greater Lehigh Valley Realtors, said in a release. “As the rising costs of homeownership force many Americans to adjust their budgets, an increasing number of buyers are hoping to help offset the costs by moving from bigger, more expensive cities to smaller areas that offer a more affordable cost of living – a situation that can, and is, creating a logjam for places like the Lehigh Valley.” 

In a phone interview, Schaeffer said rising interest rates and declining affordability are spurring some buyers to get off the fence before the opportunity is gone. 

“They’re moving on it,” he said. 

Homes that are priced right are still garnering multiple offers, Schaeffer said. 

Three of his listings – in different price ranges – that went under contract within days of each other, he said, received anywhere from four to 19 offers. 

Paula Wolf is a freelance writer.