How's the Market? Winter 2024 Real Estate Market Update for Central Pennsylvania

Dated: January 27 2024

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When you’re an agent, people frequently ask, “How’s the market?” Here’s the short version: it’s still a seller’s market (mainly because we have low low inventory). But it’s not as strong and full-on crazy that we saw in the past year.

2023 was an amazingly slow year in real estate: listings were down dramatically (record lows, actually) and new construction in our area is very very slim. After a slow start to 2023, the number of listings in our MLS area (Bright MLS) actually started to tick up near the end of 2023. This continued into early January of 2024  and was a hopeful sign for agents that more houses were coming on the market!

But when you look at the numbers closer, you see that the numbers are still off balance. The number of new listings in our Central Pennsylvania market is still 6.6% lower than this time last year, and the numbers during 2023 were lower than in 2021 and 2022. So we haven’t reversed the decline yet.

In the winter months, we typically do see a slowdown in sales. This is normal as our business is highly seasonal. The declines may in part be attributed in some part to bad weather. As we move into spring, number of listings and sales start to pick up. Here are the latest numbers in our market area (we are considered part of the Central Pennsylvania market):

  • Number of showings - down 21% year over year
  • New purchase contracts - down 4.2%
  • Median time to contract - 17 days
  • New listings - down 6.6%
  • Median list price - up 8.8% year over year

With everything happening in the housing market recently, you might have some questions about selling your house. The supply of homes is still  low - see the graph below from NAR - so we’re still in a seller’s market. Selling while inventory is low means if you price your house right, it’s likely to be in high demand.

In fact, we have a huge issue in trying to match up buyers with homes. Demand still outpaces supply. Even now we are seeing houses attract multiple offers and bidding wars - if the house is priced correctly to start. The houses that are still sitting on the market after months of showings are overpriced. If it’s priced right, it’s gone.

You may have more equity in your home that you know. Equity is the current value of your home minus what you own on the loan. Equity nationwide has been growing faster than historical averages.  Almost 70% of homeowners have either paid off their mortgages or have at least 50% equity in their homes right now. This can be a game-changer when you move. Once you sell your house, you can use your equity to help with your next purchase. Use it for some of your downpayment on the next house. You may even be able to put down a significant amount so you don’t have to finance as much.

In the next 3 graphics, we’re going to show you the current market statistics in the areas where we sell the most houses - Schuylkill, Berks and Lebanon Counties. The trends are similar, but note they are also very specific to each market.

All real estate is local. We do have national trends, state trends, and county-specific trends. In general, trends that start in other parts of the country (say California or Texas or Florida) often start earlier and then move to our area at a slower pace. So housing crashes or booms start elsewhere in “hotter” markets and move then to our area.

Not only is all real estate local, it even has micro-pockets. So within a county you will see hotter  and colder areas. For example, Blue Mountain School District typically sees faster growth in prices and quicker sales (if priced right to start). Other areas take time to sell and may be somewhat isolated from state and national booms and busts. Even within a school district you’ll see pockets of “hot” and areas where it takes longer to sell. This is normal.

When helping you price your home, we will show you comparable sales and differentiate between the  areas and neighborhoods to make sure your home is priced correctly. For example, a 4-bedroom 2.5 bath 2000 square foot home in Schuylkill Haven School District would not be considered comparable to a similar home in the Pine Grove School District. And even within the same schools - a house in Lake Wynonah (Schuylkill Haven Schools) shouldn’t be compared to a similar house in downtown Schuylkill Haven. Trust your agent to guide you in choosing comparables to price your home.

Blog author image

Erica Ramus, MRE

Erica Ramus is a Schuylkill County native and a graduate of St. Clair Area High School. She earned degrees at Armand Hammer United World College of the American West (I.B.), University of Delaware Hon....

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