September 2023 Market Update
In September 2023, the Greater Lehigh Valley REALTORS® (GLVR) reported a significant downturn in home sales by 31.9%, influenced by persistently high mortgage rates that have surpassed 7% since mid-August. This economic climate has heightened sensitivity among potential buyers and sellers, leading to a contraction in market activity. Despite this, the median sales price in Lehigh and Northampton counties rose by 8.4% to $325,000, a reflection of the enduring demand in the face of shrinking inventory, which fell by 33.7%.
For buyers, the increased cost of a mortgage—nearly $1,000 more per month on a $400,000 loan compared to 2021—necessitates a careful financial calculation, balancing the higher mortgage payments against other essential expenses. However, for those with available funds, there's an opportunity to purchase now and potentially refinance later, should interest rates decrease. This approach also positions buyers to act ahead of a possible market influx when rates and/or prices drop, avoiding the competition that such a scenario would likely bring about.
In Carbon County, the real estate market exhibits a nuanced divergence, with pending sales rising and the median sales price up, suggesting that while certain areas may be experiencing a cooldown, there are pockets of activity where the market remains resilient.
Amidst these conditions, GLVR President Howard Schaeffer emphasizes that, despite the market's challenges, there will always be sellers and buyers. The current environment necessitates a compelling reason for market participation, particularly for sellers. For buyers, the present may still be a propitious time to engage in the market, especially with strategic planning and the possibility of refinancing in the future as an avenue to manage costs.
Real estate professionals are poised to provide invaluable assistance, helping clients to understand the market's complexities and to identify the right moment for buying or selling. For those ready to navigate the unpredictable tides of the 2023 real estate market, the guidance of a knowledgeable REALTOR® could be the difference in making a confident and successful transaction, whether buying or selling.