The real estate market in the eight-county Philadelphia region thawed its way out of a disappointing winter and into a sunnier spring in 2014′s second quarter, but sales still lagged the same period of a more hopeful 2013.
Using data from the Trend Multiple Listing Service, the Berkshire Hathaway Home Services Fox & Roach HomExpert Market Report shows second-quarter sales regionwide running 6.6 percent below the same period in 2013 – 14,795 vs. 15,844.
Year over year, prices were basically flat, the report indicates, with the average price just 0.3 percent higher than in March to June 2013 – $264,842 compared with $264,000.
Median price – half the homes sold for more, half for less – was just 0.5 percent higher, $221,000 in this year’s second quarter vs. $220,000 last year.
Joseph Scott McArdle, a BHHS Fox & Roach agent who focuses on the Chester County market, said the second quarter was “filled with ‘make up for lost time.’ ”
“When the weather finally cooperated, [buyers] seemed to come out in droves,” McArdle said. Among the things he noticed during the second quarter was that “for the first time in seven years, buyers no longer have the fear of continued falling prices.”
Apparently reflecting a more realistic approach by sellers, asking price improved vs. sale price in the second quarter. On average, the data show, sale price was 92 percent to 97 percent of asking price, depending on the number of homes on the market and traditional factors such as location and school district.
The second quarter’s for-sale inventory, 42,014 houses, was about 600 fewer than in the same period last year, the data show – well below normal numbers for the peak spring selling season.
But continuing short supply – which local agents called a major stumbling block to the market’s recovery – resulted in dramatically quicker sales. Average days on market were down 34.5 percent, to 76 days this year from 116 in 2013′s second quarter.
“The recovery, such as it is, remains a highly local phenomenon,” said economist Kevin C. Gillen, senior research consultant at the University of Pennsylvania’s Fels Institute of Government who tracks the area housing market.
“Some segments are racing forward at breakneck speed, while others have been stuck in neutral for several years,” Gillen said. “Until price appreciation and sales activity become more geographically and demographically widespread, we cannot claim the region’s housing market is in full recovery.”
In the second quarter, sales fell in every county but Camden (up 0.6 percent) and Gloucester (up a more solid 4.3 percent), the data show.