Lehigh Valley housing report shows more residents turning to rentals

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Lehigh Valley residents

From Morning Call

tshortell@mcall.com

Twitter @TShortell

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From 2012 to 2016, the number of renters in the Lehigh Valley climbed by 6,561, from 72,286 to 78,847. Over the same time period, the number of homeowners fell by 3,923, from 173,258 to 169,335.

To be sure, 68 percent of Lehigh Valley residents own their homes and nearly 32 percent rent. But homeownership is increasingly the domain of the middle-aged.

Just 8 percent of Lehigh Valley residents under 35 own their home, according to Census Bureau data cited in the report. About 55 percent over 35 are homeowners.

Residents are increasingly turning to high-end apartment buildings

The report also reflected the rising real estate market. The average selling price for a Lehigh Valley home in 2016 rose to $179,900, according to the report. That marked a $4,900 increase from 2015 and was the highest average since the real estate market collapsed in 2008, when the average sales price was $200,000. The median home sales price in January hit $188,900, data released by the Greater Lehigh Valley Realtors group showed in February.

The climbing prices are partially attributed to fiercer competition among buyers, Bradley and Raad said. The region has a housing shortage, particularly for people shopping in the $200,000 to $300,000 range, said Bradley and Jill Seitz, the commission’s community planner.

Future master plans may encourage municipalities to consider adding homes in already developed areas, Bradley said. That would address the housing crunch while preventing development in rural areas targeted for preservation, she said.

Raad said demand outstrips supply for all homes under $400,000. The shortage, he said, has been around several years and has become more noticeable of late. The improving economy has persuaded would-be buyers it’s time to spend.

“We’re not seeing enough homes come onto the market in general,” he said.

The report and interactive housing data can be found at lvpc.org/data-lv-housing.html.

tshortell@mcall.com

Twitter @TShortell

610-820-6168

 

Lehigh Valley residents

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