Lehigh Valley residential real estate market continues to soften

The Greater Lehigh Valley Realtors said its August data showed a steady housing market in the Lehigh Valley as housing affordability hits 33-year low and existing-home sales continue to soften. 

So, what can a home buyer do to better their financial chances? Shop around, according to experts. 

“As mortgage rates surge and remain volatile, it’s becoming increasingly necessary for home buyers to shop around for a loan to find savings,” said GLVR CEO Justin Porembo. “According to Freddie Mac, borrowers potentially could save an average of $1,500 over the life of a loan by gathering one additional rate quote from a lender. And borrowers could save even more by gathering five different quotes from lenders – up to $3,000, Freddie Mac research shows.” 

This week, the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage pushed to an average of 5.89 percent. That means the typical household must now spend more than 25 percent of their income on mortgage payments, a level most financial experts consider to be cost-burdened. 

“Mortgage rates rose again as markets continue to manage the prospect of more aggressive monetary policy due to elevated inflation,” said Sam Khater, Freddie Mac’s chief economist. “Not only are mortgage rates rising but the dispersion of rates has increased, suggesting that borrowers can meaningfully benefit from shopping around for a better rate.” 

According to the GLVR, closed sales dipped 17% to 738 listing in Augst. With inventory still not at sufficient levels, there were 791 units in August for both Lehigh and Northampton counties and the median sales price increased 19.2% to $315,975.

The report also showed that new listings were down 15.5% to 789l. Pending sales were down 13.4% to 762 and the months supply of inventory was down 15.4% to 789. And new listings slipped 15.5 percent to 789. 

The Percentage of homes selling for list price and above, while still higher than normal, did drop .7% over the prior month to 101.3% of the asking price. 

In Carbon County, the median sales price dipped to $199,000. Closed sales were down to 65. Pending sales bumped up seven listings to 85. New listings slipped 10 listings to 80. Inventory remained steady, decreasing just two listings to come in at 138 units, leading to a months supply of inventory that increased to 5.3 months. Days on Market increased to 26 days. 

“Inflation, higher interest rates, and fears of a potential recession have taken a toll on buyers and sellers this summer, leading many people to stay on the sidelines to see what will happen with the market,” said GLVR President Howard Schaeffer. “But some experts, including NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun, believe the worst of inflation may be over. Although sales prices remain up from this time last year, price growth is expected to moderate in the months ahead as the market continues to shift in a more buyer-friendly direction.” 


Gas prices drop again, trend could continue

Gas prices continue their decent from their record highs earlier this year and it’s a trend AAA is predicting will continue. 

Gas prices in Pennsylvania are seven cents lower this week at $3.911 per gallon, according to AAA East Central’s Gas Price Report. 

In the Lehigh Valley the average price for a gallon of gas was $3.798 per gallon, down from $3.912 on Sept. 6. 

The price is still higher than it was one year ago. The average price for a gallon of gas on Sept. 13, 2021 was $3.242 per gallon.               

Meanwhile, the national average price for a gallon of gas also fell seven cents in the past week to reach $3.71. 

That’s a level AAA said it has not seen since the beginning of March.  

The primary reason for this decline is the recent lower cost for oil. This trend has helped pump prices fall steadily for three straight months. Today’s national average is 26 cents less than a month ago but 53 cents more than a year ago. 

At the close of Friday’s formal trading session, West Texas Intermediate increased by $3.25 to settle at $86.79. Although a weakening dollar helped to increase crude prices at the end of the week, prices dropped earlier in the week amid ongoing market concerns that oil demand will fall if economic growth slows or stalls due to a recession. 

 Additionally, EIA’s latest weekly report showed that total commercial crude inventories increased significantly by 8.9 million barrels to 427.2 million barrels.  

According to data from the Energy Information Administration (EIA), gas demand increased slightly from 8.59 million barrels per day to 8.73 million barrels per day last week. Meanwhile, total domestic gasoline stocks rose by 300,000 barrels to 214.8 million barrels.  

Although gasoline demand has increased slightly, lower oil prices have led to falling pump prices. If gasoline demand begins to subside, as it typically does post-Labor Day with the end of summer driving, AAA predicted that pump prices could continue to decrease. 


Lehigh Valley Water Systems moving back to where it all began

Lehigh Valley Water Systems will be moving into the Long family’s Route 309 building. PHOTO/SUBMTTED –

Business is coming full circle for the Long Family as they look to move back into the building where the family business started. 

Barry Long founded Long’s Ecowater back in 1976, purchasing a property to run the business out of along Route 309 in Orefield in 1986. 

The Long family ran the water treatment services business out of that building until Long sold it in 2002 and the new owners took over the business and began leasing the property. The new owners kept the Long’s name. 

Barry Long’s goal at the time was to leave the business world to pursue work in ministry and he worked for Faith Church in Trexlertown. 

But Long’s son, Ben, said the family started missing being in business and when the non-compete clause expired, the family decided to open a new water treatment service business. In 2012 they began Lehigh Valley Water Systems. 

They’ve been operating out of warehouse space in the industrial park area off of Route 100, for the past 10 years, but the family wanted more. 

“We really wanted a retail space,” said Ben Long. That wasn’t something they could have in their existing space. 

So, when Long’s Ecowater’s lease was due to expire, Long decided it was time to take his new business into his old location and he told the company they would not renew the lease so Lehigh Valley Water Systems could move in. 

“We are looking forward to moving into the building I enjoyed operating out of for many years. I’m glad my son and I can continue to serve as an asset to the community and its residents for all their water treatment needs,” Barry Long said. 

Meanwhile, in June Long’s Ecowater announced it was building a new facility for its operations on Hausman Road in South Whitehall Township. 

Long expects Lehigh Valley Water Services to be operating out of the Route 309 building sometime in November. 



Lehigh Valley Latino Restaurant Week to mark Hispanic Heritage Month

Latino Restaurant Weeks are being celebrated in Allentown, Bethlehem and Easton this month. PHOTO/GETTTY IMAGES –

To help celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month, The Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of the Lehigh Valley is organizing three restaurant weeks that focus specifically on Hispanic food in an effort to promote Latino cuisine throughout the Lehigh Valley. 

“The Hispanic Chamber is proud to celebrate our Hispanic Heritage all month long,” said HCCLV Board Chair AJ Suero. “This year’s series of Latino Restaurant Week celebrations will shine a spotlight on the places and spaces that bring joy to our community by giving life to the flavors of our Hispanic culture.” 

 Latino Restaurant Week Lehigh Valley will be held over three weeks in the Valley’s three major cities. 

It will be held in Bethlehem Sept. 15-23; in Allentown Sept. 23-30, in conjunction with the 2022 Pennsylvania Latino Convention and in Easton Sept. 30-Oct. 7. 

“Not only will this initiative highlight our Latino restaurants and delicious food all throughout the Lehigh Valley, but it will also give an economic boost to the small restaurants in our community,” said Danielle Joseph, executive vice president of diversity councils for the Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce. 

The chamber is still compiling a list of participating restaurants 

More information can be found on the Hispanic Chamber’s webpage: thehispanicchamber.org. 

Hispanic Heritage Month is celebrated nationally from September 15 through October 15. 


Transform Rehabilitation acquired by Upstream

Upstream Rehabilitation, a dedicated outpatient physical therapy provider, has added a new clinic partner in the Lehigh Valley. 

Transform Rehabilitation has single clinics in Allentown, New Tripoli and Whitehall. The parties completed the transaction on Tuesday. 

New Jersey natives Kyle Lance and Thomas Fraind founded Transform Rehabilitation in late 2018 and saw their first patients at the start of 2019. 

“We’ve been successful, with year-over-year growth in each of the clinics,” said Lance, who earned a Doctor of Physical Therapy degree from the University of Scranton. “But Thomas and I were looking for a partner that can enhance our administrative functions, recruiting and expansion plans.” 

Fraind, who received a Doctor of Physical Therapy degree from Thomas Jefferson University, noted that the partnership will help Transform grow while allowing its founders to remain active in their communities. 

“Kyle and I are clinicians first and foremost and caring for our patients and the communities where we all live is what drives our practice,” Fraind said. “That approach will be enhanced as we grow Transform into a bigger, more successful business with Upstream.” 

Phil Christian, Upstream’s senior vice president of business development, worked closely with the founders on the transaction. 

“We’re thrilled to welcome Kyle, Thomas and their team to the Upstream family,” Christian said. “They have a strong vision for what they want Transform to become, and Upstream sees a great opportunity to help them achieve it.” 


Lehigh Valley gas prices drop to below $4 per gallon

Gas prices in Pennsylvania have finally dropped below $4 per gallon after reaching record highs earlier this year. 

According to the AAA East Central Gas Price report, prices are thirteen cents lower this week at $3.975 per gallon. 

In the Lehigh Valley prices dropped even lower. 

The average price for a gallon of gas on Sept. 7 was $3.895, down from $4.009 on Aug. 31, but still higher than the average price on Sept. 7, 2021 when it was $3.246 per gallon.       

The national average for a gallon of gas fell almost eight cents in the past week to $3.76. Today’s national average is 30.5 cents less than a month ago but almost 58 cents more than a year ago. 

 Lower oil prices, modest domestic gasoline demand, and a so-far quiet hurricane season are combining to drive pump prices lower, according to AAA. 

According to weather analysts, it’s the first time in 25 years that a named Atlantic storm did not develop in August.  

Meanwhile, oil prices dipped on recent decreased Chinese manufacturing output due to lower demand for goods and new COVID‑19 outbreaks in critical industrial cities.  

The association said this is fueling fears that oil demand could drop in China, the world’s largest importer of crude oil.  

Additionally, prices declined most of last week amid market concerns that crude demand will fall if economic growth slows or stalls due to a recession. EIA’s latest weekly report showed that total commercial crude inventories decreased by 3.4 million barrels to 418.3 million barrels. 

According to data from the Energy Information Administration (EIA), domestic gas demand increased slightly from 8.43 million barrels per day to 8.59 million barrels per day last week. However, the rate is nearly 1 million barrels per day lower than the last week of August 2021. Also, total domestic gasoline stocks decreased by 1.1 million barrels to 214.5 million barrels. 


Air Products to supply low-carbon hydrogen to Canadian company

Imperial has announced a long-term contract with Air Products to supply low-carbon hydrogen for Imperial’s proposed renewable diesel complex at its Strathcona refinery near Edmonton, Alberta.  

Air Products will provide pipeline supply from its hydrogen plant under construction in Edmonton. 

Imperial will use Air Products’ low-carbon hydrogen to produce renewable diesel at Strathcona that substantially reduces greenhouse gas emissions relative to conventional production. The hydrogen and biofeedstock will be combined with a proprietary catalyst to produce premium low-carbon diesel fuel. 

Air Products is increasing overall investment in its Edmonton hydrogen facility to $1.6 billion to support the Imperial contract.  

The additional investment by Air Products will be used to facilitate integration with Imperial’s proposed project that is expected to enable further significant emissions reductions at Air Products’ overall complex. Air Products will supply Strathcona with approximately 50 percent of the low-carbon hydrogen output from the 165 million standard cubic feet per day hydrogen production complex. 

“There is significant demand for low-carbon hydrogen, and as a first-mover, Air Products is ready to meet that demand from our Alberta Blue Hydrogen Hub,” said Samir J. Serhan, chief operating officer at Air Products. “Canada is rapidly implementing an energy transition that emphasizes the use of low-carbon hydrogen, and Air Products is demonstrating that world-scale hydrogen facilities can be net-zero for carbon emissions. We continue to set the stage for a competitive, low-carbon-intensity hydrogen network, which includes increasing liquid hydrogen production capacity at our site to 35 metric tons per day, to provide clean hydrogen for the growing industrial and mobility markets across Canada.” 


Fourth annual StartUp Lehigh Valley to be held in October


Richard Thompson, managing partner at Factory LLC and former CEO of Freshpet talks about StartUp Lehigh Valley. PHOTO/PROVIDED –

StartUp Lehigh Valley, a pitch competition for entrepreneurs developed and hosted by Factory LLC, is back for a fourth year. 

This year’s competition will be held at Factory’s headquarters in South Bethlehem on Oct. 26,  from 6:30-8:00 p.m.    

In a Shark Tank-style event designed to showcase startup companies in the Lehigh Valley community and throughout Pennsylvania, 10 finalists will pitch their products and businesses to a panel of judges in front of a live and virtual audience. More than thirty thousand dollars in prize money is up for grabs, along with essential resources for startup businesses. 

 “The StartUp Lehigh Valley pitch competition is designed to help grow and showcase the entrepreneurship that’s already happening in the Valley from Easton to Allentown and getting the communities excited about supporting these local startups,” said Richard Thompson, managing partner at Factory. “We are thrilled to be partnering with WFMZ this year to broadcast the event live and reach more people than ever before. We also want to applaud Penn State Lehigh Valley LaunchBox for working with us to help pull off this competition, and for providing vital resources to our local entrepreneurs year-round, but to be clear all college and university students are welcome to participate.” 

Thompson said Factory considered dozens of cities across the U.S. before building its innovation and scaleup facility, and they found exactly they we were looking for here in the Lehigh Valley.  

“The Lehigh Valley has easy access to major airports and cities, a competitive talent pool, top-tier universities, and an exploding logistics industry,” he said. “It’s perfectly poised to become a hotbed for innovation, and this competition is all about building that entrepreneurial community. This event is helping to create a startup ecosystem right here in the Lehigh Valley.” 

The grand prize winner will take home $20,000, with two runners up earning $3,000 and $2,000 respectively. The live and virtual audience will also vote for the winner of a $1,000 Audience Choice award. Entrepreneurs have until Oct. 7 to apply and can find all the details at startuplehighvalley.com 

For the first time this year, the Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeastern Pennsylvania will present a Ben Franklin Technology Partners award to the top early-stage technology-based firm. This winner, which may be the grand prize winner or another competitor, will receive a $5,000 Ben Franklin Business and Technical Assistance grant for a specific project that is crucial to the company’s development.  

 The prize money is presented by Lehigh Valley LaunchBox. The PSU-LV LaunchBox innovation hub is located in Center Valley and provides comprehensive startup resources ranging from free legal services to access to expert business advisors. LV LaunchBox is powered by Penn State’s expansive innovation network of 21 hubs across Pennsylvania. All participants will have the opportunity to network at the event and are invited to take advantage of the full range of LaunchBox’s services.  

Evonik cuts ribbon on Trexlertown Innovation Hub

U.S. Congresswoman Susan Wild, D-7; Ralph Marquardt, chief innovation officer of Evonik; Ute Wolf, CFO of Evonik, Pa.Gov. Tom Wolf; and Bonnie Tully president of Evonik North America; cut the ribbon on the new Evonik Innovation Hub in Trexlertown. PHOTO/STACY WESCOE –

German chemical company, Evonik, held a ribbon cutting Thursday at its new state-of-the-art Innovation Hub in Trexlertown. 

Located on property Evonik purchased from Air Products about 6 years ago, the 30,000-square-foot space will be the centerpiece of growth at the two-building site said Tracey Mole, vice president of the Business & Innovation Center. 

“This the first major milestone in our modernization project,” he said. 

The space will be the center of the company’s global research and development efforts and will serve as a collaborative space where researchers, marketing and financing staff can all work together on innovation. 

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf noted that the state helped fund the development of the center, which he called an important addition to the state and the Lehigh Valley. 

“Evonik’s new, state-of-the-art space will build on Pennsylvania’s strength as a center for advanced manufacturing,” said Wolf. “I’m proud to have invested $2.5 million in this Innovation Hub that will bring new, good-paying jobs to the Allentown region.” 

According to Evonik, the company employs 300 at the Trexlertown facility. The project is helping to retain more than 200 of those employees as well as adding 50 high-paying jobs in advanced manufacturing. 

Ute Wolf, CFO of Evonik said having the center in Trexlertown will help the Lehigh Valley become the center of Evonik’s global growth. 

“Innovation is very important. What we really brings us forward is new ideas and education,” she said. 

To express the importance of innovation to Evonik, Ute Wolf noted that the company spends about $500,000 per year on research and development. 

Jean Vincent, senior vice president of R&D, specialty additives, said the company’s research into high-performing plastics, used in applications from medical implants to football cleats, is the centerpiece of the company’s work at the facility, but the company also researches other things such as additives to insulation used in refrigerators to products that help make paint brighter. 

“We research new chemistry applications of technology right down to the molecular level,” she said. 

The Innovation Hub project was managed by Boyle Construction, and Mole said it won’t be the last new construction the company will have at the site. 

“I would like to see the site continue to grow,” he said, noting the space to add new building was one of the features that attracted Evonik to purchase the property. 

What attracted the company to locate in the Lehigh Valley in the first place, he said, was the region’s education landscape. He said with the large number of universities in the region, Evonik has a sizeable pool of highly educated and skilled talent to recruit from. 

In fact, the company recently donated $100,000 to the Da Vinci Science Center in Allentown to help promote STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) education for young women. 

Like many companies, Mole said Evonik was also drawn to the Lehigh Valley because of its geography. He noted it’s close to other innovation hubs like New York and Boston but has the affordability of living that offers a better quality of life for employees. 


Colliers signs lease to bring GOAT to the Lehigh Valley

First 33 Commerce Center at 3895 Eastgate Boulevard PHOTO/COLLLIERS –

A global online marketplace for sneakers, apparel and accessories is opening a facility in the Lehigh Valley. 

The Colliers Logistics & Transportation team for Eastern Pennsylvania said it recently leased 341,400 square feet of distribution and fulfillment space at 3895 Eastgate Boulevard in the First 33 Commerce Center in Easton to Los Angeles-based GOAT Group on behalf of First Industrial Real Estate. 

GOAT, which is an acronym for “Greatest of All Time”, serves both primary and resale markets. The e-commerce company, founded in 2015 has been growing rapidly and processed more than $2 billion in sales last year.  

The firm has 30 million members who visit its website to purchase hard-to-find and luxury products through what it described as a powerful and disruptive global technology platform. 


Gas prices drop for 75th consecutive day

Gas prices continue their retreat from record highs. 

Gas prices in Pennsylvania are almost nine cents lower this week at $4.121 per gallon, according to AAA East Central’s Gas Price Report. 

In the Lehigh Valley the average price for a gallon of gas was $4.018 on Aug. 30, down from $4.129 on Aug. 23. 

Gas prices in the Lehigh Valley are still significantly higher than they were a year ago. The average price for a gallon of gas on Aug. 30, 2021 was $3.275.  

According to AAA, the national average for a gallon of gas fell almost a nickel this past week to $3.84. Even though crude oil prices increased slightly over the past week, lower domestic demand for gasoline is keeping gas prices lower. Today’s national average is $1.17 less than the record set in mid-June but is still 69 cents more than a year ago. 

According to new data from the Energy Information Administration (EIA), gas demand decreased from 9.35 million barrels per day to 8.43 million barrels per day last week. This rate is 920,000 barrels per day lower than last year. Moreover, according to EIA, total domestic gasoline stocks remained almost unchanged week over week. With gas demand down and supplies unchanged, prices at the pump continue to fall, AAA said. This steady daily decrease, now in its 75th consecutive day, is the longest streak since October 11, 2018 when the national average price of gas fell for 85 consecutive days.