Taking a look back at the year that was 2017 and the issues that dominated the Reading Berks Real Estate market to see what may be ahead.
We say it every year, "I can't believe the year is over already." But alas, another year has come to an end and its time to take a look back at what happened and see if the events offer insight for the coming year.
Low Home Inventory
If you have been searching for a new home here in the Reading, PA and Berks County area, you already know this story all too well. The availability of homes locally and nationally is at historic lows. As of this writing, there are only 1,286 available single-family (not condo) homes for sale in Reading and Berks County listed in the Bright Multi-List System. Of that number 146 homes are being offered by builders and not yet built. That means only 1,140 actual dwellings presently exist for sale. 228 Of these are in the Reading City limits which leave just 912 available homes in the Berks County suburbs.
The following figures will add perspective to how low our home inventory is at this time. Back in December 2008; there were approximately 3,700 homes for sale. In December 2010 the number peaked at around 2,900. That number has dwindled each year since. The high mark in home inventory here in Berks during 2017 was 1,800 homes for sale in June.
Legislators Kick the Property Tax Can Again
In 2016 Pennsylvania property owners watched as politics as usual played out in Harrisburg. Senate Bill 76, which would have eliminated school property taxes missed passage by one vote. In 2017 the issue of school property tax was put on the ballot as a referendum to the public. So if I have this straight, in 2016 property tax elimination missed by one vote so the next year our Pennsylvania legislators check with the public to see if it is something they truly want? The referendum passed, Surprise and now we wait to see what's next.
Each year property owners hold out hope that our, at times, dysfunctional Pennsylvania legislature will figure out the property tax issue. It is unfortunate that our government has its collective hands full with creating a budget, balancing the books, and figuring out what to tax next. These activities leave little time for things like property tax reforms.
A Look Ahead to 2018 ~ It's Up to You
In 2017 the Reading Berks real estate area market saw over 4,900 home sell which is about 100 more than 2016. What's impressive is sales are increasing year over year as inventory drops. Often a precipitous decline in inventory creates an increase in property value. Through November of this year, Berks has seen an increase of approximately 5%. Seller credit is still a significant factor in 52% of all sales here in the county which lowers the overall net value increase to home sellers. I will have more on this during my radio show on WEEU January 8th. You can also read articles relating to seller credit and its effect on home sales on my website.
2018 Will be a big election year in Pennsylvania. Governor Wolf is up for reelection. Property taxes continue to be a hot-button issue. Property owners, don't get defeated by the futility of the past. Make your voice heard on this and other issues. You may find out that in a big election year you get listened to. We gave them our answer by voting for the referendum now let's not let that property tax can get kicked again!
We have great legislators and county commissioners here in Reading and Berks County. They know how we feel about property taxes without the referendum. I call on them to do what is necessary here in Berks no matter what happens in Harrisburg. Change is much needed, and we depend on them to make it happen. In 2018 you should let them know. If property taxation is not fixed here in Reading and Berks, don't expect much to change. Your voice could make all the difference here in the Reading Berks real estate market for 2018.
Happy New Year!
Knowledge is Power!