Midstate Pa. home-buying frenzy is slowing

Local

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — It’s still unquestionably a seller’s market, but data provided exclusively to abc27 News, corroborated by accounts of local real estate agents, suggest Midstate Pennsylvania’s hottest-ever real estate market is cooling.

This, in turn, reflects indications nationally that the real estate market, strong, to varying degrees, throughout most of the U.S. is slowing elsewhere too.

After a half-year of surging prices and dwindling inventory, inventory in the Harrisburg market, which Zillow defines as Dauphin, Cumberland, and Perry Counties, rose 5% in May compared to April, according to an analysis by Zillow for abc27 News. In other words, more homes are available for purchase. On the other hand, the inventory level was still 18% less than it was a year earlier.

“It is just maybe not the frenzy that we did have some of last year and the beginning part of this year,” Wendell Hoover of Iron Valley Real Estate said. He said homes still end up under contract quickly, but slightly less quickly than before and after not quite as many showings and offers. Offers over asking price, and without contingencies like inspections, are still common, he said.

A second Harrisburg-area real estate agent, Rick Martini of RE/MAX Realty Professionals, described similar trends. And prices?

“We’re not going to [continue to] increase like we just increased in the past year,” Hoover said. “That’s not normal for Harrisburg.”

He said he doesn’t expect a downturn. Just a leveling-off of prices.

The typical home in the Harrisburg market is worth $218,545 as of May, according to Zillow, up 1.3% compared to April and 11.6% compared to May 2020.

As for people who rent rather than own, a home in the market rented for $1,204 in May, according to Zillow, up 0.6% since April and 6.5 percent since May 2020.

Although expensive by its own historical standards, Harrisburg remains affordable compared to most of the U.S. Nationally, a typical home is worth $287,148, according to Zillow, and a typical home rents for $1,747.

Also Thursday, Freddie Mac reported a second straight week of declining mortgage rates, following a previous uptick. The average 30-year mortgage rate is 2.9%, down from 2.98% last week, according to the report. That’s more than two full points lower than the highest average 30-year mortgage rate for the past decade, 4.94%, back in November 2018.

Hoover’s advice to sellers? Don’t be greedy. Even in a strong market, expecting to get more than $20,000 above asking price is more likely to alienate someone making a strong market than it is to result in a better deal, he said.

And buyers? “Stay on top of new listings, and be ready to make an offer right away,” he said.

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