The Delaware Valley/Lehigh Valley real estate market saw median sale prices rise while inventory declined, according to the Long & Foster Real Estate Market Minute Report. Both Burlington and Camden Counties experienced 21% increases in sale price, followed by 20% in Mercer County, and 2% in Gloucester County.
Year-over-year inventory declines continued throughout the area, ranging from 30% in Burlington and Mercer Counties to 37% in Gloucester County. The number of units sold also dipped in all areas of the region except for Camden County, which exhibited a 1% increase, compared to last year at this time.
Low housing inventory was more challenged in December and, generally, will remain a challenge in 2020, according to Gary Scott, president of Long & Foster Real Estate. “The low inventory environment we are experiencing today is in part, caused by the population aging in place,” said Scott. “At some point in time in the near future, we predict aging in place will lead to selling at a robust pace for a 10-year period. When will that start? Probably not in 2020.”
Scott noted that his 33 years in the real estate business suggests the spring real estate market begins each year on January 15. “With the holidays over, and the kids back in school, people traditionally begin to focus on selling or buying now,” said Scott. “Although the shortage of inventory will cause the number of homes sold this year to be off, we expect good healthy appreciation for homeowners.”
For those considering buying a home this year, Scott gave some insight on the pros and cons of buying versus renting. “Buying provides a sense of pride and stability, while renting provides flexibility,” said Scott. He added that buying a home builds equity and has tax advantages while renting keeps cash liquid. “There is no metric nor algorithm to determine if and when you should buy a home – it’s really about personal preference,” said Scott. “If you know you are going to be in living in your current location for at least two or more years, I recommend you buy a home.”