Lancaster City is the "hot topic" these days...everything from the surge in First Fridays activities to living roofs planned for Lancaster City buildings. Near the top of the discussion list is the continued development of the Lancaster City market for homes.
As a preferred Realtor for Lancaster City home sales, I spend a lot of time downtown and in the various neighborhoods of the city. Frankly, it's a blast! I always enjoy meeting the community and seeing new & interesting architecture (the camera is always handy).
However, there's a lot of talk out there about how wonderful things are but no good numbers to support it. So - here are some "hard data" about where the city stands compared to the county average! In developing this data I looked at the first quarter 2008 versus the same period in 2007. This is straight off the MLS, folks - no monkeying with the data:
For the first quarter 2008, the average Lancaster County PA home sale price was $182,670. In comparison, the average Lancaster City home price was $96,918. Right away we can see the tremendous advantage that the city has for the first-time or limited-budget homebuyer. But how does that look compared to last winter? For the county, that's down 3%. For the city, it's up 3%. Again, good for the city! However, I would view 3% as a statistical non-number. Things are basically the same, in other words. But that is good news, considering the poor market nationwide!
OK, on to raw sales numbers: in the county we experienced a 32% falloff in home sales for this past quarter, which is pretty much the trend so far this year - a third off in total sales vs. 2007. How about the city? Well, yes, the city is also trending down - but not by nearly as big a number. Of course, the majority of this falloff is accountable to the removal of most "creative" and low-down mortgage programs this year, which is pinching out many marginal-credit buyers. New listings were also fairly static, with no change countywide and a 4% rise in the city.
One interesting stat is the average new listing price. My readers know that I like to use the new listing price as an indicator of the "reality factor" for home sellers. In this edgy market, new listing prices should not be rising...especially as the average sold price continues to stagnate. Check this out - Lancaster County's new listing average price actually climbed by 14% versus 2007! Hello... Meanwhile, Lancaster City homes average new listing price actually dropped by 3% - a sign of normality in the city market.
Lastly, let's look at active inventory. Countywide, we're up 21% vs. 2007. However, in the city the inventory is up a full 30% versus last year! This is raw data, folks. Now, those of us who know the city know that the inventory is in pretty poor shape, and the true number of decent properties is much lower than 317. Either way, though, the city is seeing a bump in inventory. I'll post an article later on more Lancaster City home sales stats.
On balance, the market downturn has not hit Lancaster City nearly as hard as the county as a whole, and there are continued signs of a relatively healthy market heading into the "big season" for real estate here in Lancaster. If you're on a budget, like people or dislike driving (or all three) then you should consider Lancaster City as a real option.