Report: COVID 19 has positively disrupted the region’s housing market
WILKES-BARRE – According to the 2021Indicators report compiled by Wilkes University’s Institute for Public Policy & Economic Development, COVID 19 has disrupted our housing market – but in a positive way.
âThere has been an increase in demand, an increase in housing values ââand new real estate developments in the future,â said Teri Ooms, Director General of the Institute.
In 2018, Ooms said there were more than 251,000 housing units in Luzerne and Lackawanna counties. She said the area’s housing stock is predominantly older, with around two-thirds of homes being owner-occupied.
The report showed that about 56 percent of homes in the two counties were built before 1960, compared to just 47 percent statewide. Conversely, the region has a smaller proportion of homes built since 2000 – around eight percent – compared to 12 percent across the Commonwealth.
âSince the real estate crash, signs of recovery in the region have been mixed,â Ooms said. “However, more recent data shows prices on the rise.”
The median home value, tracked by the Census Bureau, increased in Lackawanna County and decreased in Luzerne County. Additionally, the median listing price – a more immediate indicator of market activity – has increased in both counties and at the state level.
Inventories for sale have fallen in the two-county area, remaining well below levels recorded five years ago.
“Together, these signs point to a tightening of housing market conditions even before the pandemic, a trend that appears to have accelerated over the past year,” Ooms said. Zillow’s current monthly Home Value Index data for 2020 and 2021, along with reports from local real estate professionals, also indicated rising prices and a strong sellers’ market in the housing market. of the region.”
In 2019, Ooms said Lackawanna and Luzerne counties were somewhat behind the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in terms of recent construction. Statewide, 2.5% of homes were built in 2014 or later, compared to 1.5% in Lackawanna and Luzerne counties.
The two counties also have lower percentages of homes built between 2000 and 2013 than Pennsylvania’s 9.4% – Lackawanna County is 6.4% and Alfalfa County 6.0%. This indicates that the national housing construction boom of the early 2000s was less apparent in this region. Plus, compared to Pennsylvania, a much higher percentage of the area’s housing stock was built before 1940.
Lackawanna County’s median home value in 2019 increased from the previous year, which, at $ 158,000, is the highest of any year studied. Luzerne County had seen a substantial jump of about $ 8,000 in 2018, and an equivalent drop between 2018 and 2019.
Prior to the significant increase in 2019, median home values ââin Lackawanna County had not shown a clear trend – there had been small increases and decreases each year.
Luzerne County had been on an upward trajectory from 2015 to 2018.
The median home value in Lackawanna County has been on average about 20% lower than the statewide median over the past five years – in Luzerne County the median has been about 43% lower than the statewide median on average.
In 2019, 36.7% of homes in Luzerne County were valued at less than $ 100,000, and 39.4% were valued between $ 100,000 and $ 200,000. Similarly, in Lackawanna County, the largest share of homes (39.8%) were valued between $ 100,000 and $ 200,000, and 26% were valued at less than $ 100,000.
In both counties, the percentages of homes valued over $ 200,000 and the percentages of homes valued over $ 300,000 were much lower than in Pennsylvania as a whole.
Multi-year trends indicated a pickup in market activity, as evidenced by lower inventory and rising list prices in counties and statewide.
Current monthly data for 2020 and 2021, along with reports from local real estate professionals, also indicated a strong seller’s market in the region’s housing market.
The number of foreclosures in both counties and statewide was highest in 2012 and 2013, representing a peak in foreclosures associated with the latest recession.
In Lackawanna County, foreclosures continued to decline, reaching the lowest year of those analyzed in 2019, while the total of Luzerne County has started to increase since 2016.
The 636 seizures in Luzerne County in 2019 is the highest number since 2014. Statewide, the 20,143 seizures in 2019 were the lowest number of all years analyzed.
Homelessness data is tracked annually through one-off counts reported to the US Department of Housing and Urban Development. In 2016, 411 homeless people were counted in the two departments. That trend declined to 324 in 2018, then gradually increased to 358 in the most recent count, taken before the pandemic in 2020. The homeless population statewide increased slightly in 2020.
Starting in 2020, the percentage of households in the two counties that were unprotected increased, especially in Lackawanna County. In the combined region, 9.5% of homeless households were not housed, almost double the share in the past two years and the highest share of all years analyzed. Nonetheless, this is a smaller proportion of unprotected households compared to Pennsylvania as a whole.
The share of the region’s non-housed population made up of children increased from 32% in 2017 to 19% in 2019, then rose to almost 28% in 2020.