The U.S. Census Bureau says the Lehigh Valley has 264,310 housing units, and if you’re in the market, you can find one at just about any type, size, condition or cost.
The housing stock of the Lehigh Valley is primarily made up of five different housing types. More than half of the region’s housing units (53%) are single-family detached homes. Approximately 56% of residences were built between 1950 and 2000, and one in four residences was built before 1940.
Homeowners in the Lehigh Valley make up the majority, while just under a third of residents are renters. About 7% of housing units in the Lehigh Valley are vacant, a rate that is consistent in both Lehigh and Northampton counties.
Just 8% of homeowners are under the age of 35, yet that demographic comprises nearly one-third of the renter population. For age groups above 35 years old, owners outnumber renters by more than 10%.
The majority of apartments in the Lehigh Valley cost between $500 and $1,500 per month. In 2016, single-family detached homes sold for significantly more than single-family attached and multi-family housing types, and mobile homes were the least expensive option. But affordability, for renters and owners, is one of the greatest housing issues in the Lehigh Valley. According to the LVPC’s 1LV report, 48% of people in a public opinion survey identified quality housing attainable for working families as the region’s top housing need.
Regional Housing Market Report
The number of homes sold each year has been climbing since 2011, with sales in 2016 for the first time surpassing the number sold in 2008. While the number of sales continued to increase, the median sale price of houses remained almost flat for five years, but that appears to be changing. A $5,000 upturn in sale price in 2016, over the previous year, gives some indication that prices may be on the incline again.
Single-family detached homes are the most commonly sold housing type in the Lehigh Valley market, accounting for nearly two-thirds of all sales in 2016. They’re also the most expensive homes to buy, with a median sale price of $211,000 in 2016. Condominium prices were the next highest-priced housing type at at $185,000, followed by multi-family homes with a median sale price of $139,000 and single-family attached homes at $125,000. Mobile homes were the least expensive housing type, with a median sale price of $77,500 in 2016.
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Explore the map below to see more sales trends in each school district or municipality. Click to see that municipality's most recent sales numbers, the median for each housing type, percentage of each housing type sold and a 5-year trend of housing costs. Select the on the side to turn the municipality and school district layers on and off.
The Lehigh Valley rental market has grown steadily, as the number of renters has increased every year since 2012. As trends show a greater interest in urban living nationally, more people in the region are choosing renting over homeownership. In the Lehigh Valley, more than three-quarters of all apartments have rents that fall between $500 and $1,500 per month.
A New American Dream?
Homeownership remains the dominate method for residential living in the Lehigh Valley, where nearly 170,000 homes are owner-occupied. But that version of the American Dream has been undergoing a change recently, as the number of occupied rental units has climbed to nearly 79,000 – a 9% increase since 2012. Meanwhile, the number of homeowners decreased by more than 2%.