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What's Going On in the Real Estate Markets?

Realtor and columnist Lisa Wright has the answers.

When people talk about real estate, they talk in singular terms. “How is the real estate market?” they will often ask.

Since there are many facets to the market, it is very difficult to offer one answer that covers everything. We have a pulse on the national picture, the local picture and even the micro-market. All the markets affect the value of your home, what it’s worth now and what it may be worth in the future. If you are considering selling now, but weren’t sure, this information is for you. If you are thinking about buying, pay even closer attention, because there really has never been a better opportunity for all buyers, whether they're moving up, buying their first home or downsizing.

First let's talk about the national market. According to the National Association of Realtors, 10,000 homes are being sold every day. Pending sales have been rising every month since June of 2010. Interest rates have also been rising slightly and are expected to continue to rise throughout 2011 as the market returns and to counter signs of inflation. Considering rates and prices will rise as the market returns, now is a great time to buy.

The Lehigh Valley market has been holding its own throughout the last several years. We have not seen the devastation that many markets have, proving that the Lehigh Valley is a great place to live. Pending sales in January rose over December by 9.5 percent, showing upward momentum and following suit with the national picture. The greatest percentage of of the 382 sales were in the under $200,000 price range, with an average days-on-market (DOM) figure of 105.1 days. DOM is the length of time a home has been on the market before an accepted contract is put together. As we move into the spring market, the number of homes on the market has dropped by 7.3 percent, which has reduced the month’s supply of inventory to 9.9 months. Month’s supply of inventory is the figure that represents the number of months it will take to sell out all of the homes currently on the market. The local data is compiled from Lehigh Valley Association of Realtors (LVAR) data, through AgentMetrics, and represents homes listed with Realtors. While the national and local picture are both important to the value of your home, so is the micro-market of Saucon Valley.

The Saucon Valley School District in January saw a decrease in the number of pending sales over December. The total number of sales for January was down 47.5 percent over December. However, December saw a spike in sales, which were up 76.9 percent from November. The total number of pending sales for December was 23. January and November both saw 13 pending sales. Sixty-nine percent of sales for January were in the under $200,000 price range. A positive trend for sellers is that the number of homes available for purchase in the Saucon Valley is down 13.2 percent. Fewer competing properties increase your chances for a sale.

Whether you are looking to buy, sell or stay put, knowing what is going on nationally, locally and in your micro-market is important when calculating the value of your home. If you look at the big picture, now is a great time to buy your first home, move into a larger home, downsize or buy a vacation home or investment property. Donald Trump was recently quoted saying, “I’m pretty sure this is a great time to go out and buy a house. And if you do, in 10 years you’re going to look back and say, ‘You know, I’m glad I listened to Donald Trump.’” The more people who buy homes now, the faster values will recover. It is a decision that should be made with the facts from all the markets, rather than just one.

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