State of the York County housing market in 2015
York County's housing market experienced a banner year in terms of home sales for 2015.
According to the Realtors Association of York and Adams Counties' year-end real estate market report, every single school district in the county saw home sales growth over 2014.
The report, which compares statistics from up to 10 years prior, also shows some noticeable trends among the districts. Which ones are trending up? Down? Check it out:
On the rise: In 2005, Northern York district saw 64 homes sold for a median sale price of $163,500. Fast forward 10 years and that same district saw 154 homes sold for a median price of $220,000, which represents the highest median sale price of any district in the county. On the down side, the 154 homes sold, while 45 percent more than even one year ago, is still the lowest of any district.
West Shore was the only other district to see more than double growth in home sales since 2005, when it sold 100 homes compared to 222 in 2015. West Shore has also seen a 15 percent increase in median sale price during that time, making it the third most expensive district at $179,100.
Tony Thomas, president of RAYAC, said districts tend to rise and fall in cycles as buyers look to get what they want for the price they can afford
For example, Northern and West Shore districts' median sale prices were significantly up from 2005, but actually down slightly compared to 2007.
Spring Grove is another district on the rise, with home sales up 74 percent in the past five years, from 191 homes sold in 2010 to 332 in 2015, while median sale price remained relatively stagnant.
John LeCates, a Realtor at Howard Hanna Sales Associates, said high taxes, pricing and proximity to work are typical factors in someone preferring one district over another, but school systems are usually the biggest factor.
According to the most recent data (2013-14) collected by the state Department of Education, Northern York and Spring Grove ranked first and third, respectively, in graduation rate among York County school districts.
Falling fast: On the other end of the spectrum, York City, Dover and Northeastern school districts represent three of the four lowest graduation rates in the county, and their home sales are reflective.
York City has experienced the steepest 10-year drop in home sales, with 327 sold last year compared to 632 in 2005. The district's median sale price has been the lowest among districts by a wide margin for many years, and it has also dropped significantly. That figure hit a high in 2007 at $69,900 and finished 2015 at $36,000.
LeCates said high taxes have continued to plague York City's home sales numbers, as homeowners look to move out of the city into nearby, more reasonably priced districts.
York City was also the only district with no new homes sold during 2015. Only two new homes have been sold in the city in the past five years.
Northeastern sold the most new homes during 2015 with 48, but it wasn't enough to offset the 33 percent drop the district has experienced in home sales compared to 2005. The district has been slowly bouncing back since hitting a low with 201 sold during 2011 all the way up to 311 last year.
Dover has also been bouncing back the past few years — 325 homes sold during 2015 compared to 239 in 2012 — but is still a far ways away from the 445 sold 10 years ago.
Thomas said districts that experience downward trajectory over a long period of time typically have a lot of distressed inventory that lead to short sales and foreclosures.
Like hot cakes: Homes in York County were on the market for an average of 70 days during 2015. That's the lowest average since at least 2008, according to the report, and that number was particularly helped out by Dallastown, York Suburban and Central districts.
Dallastown and York Suburban tied for the least amount of average time on the market at 57 days. York Suburban is also one of only three districts to experience an increase in average median price since 2005, albeit a modest 2 percent rise.
Dallastown's sales numbers are down from 2005's 750 homes to 522 in 2015, but that number still represents the second highest among York County districts.
The highest number sold, 526, belongs to Central, where homes were on the market for an average of 58 days.
LeCates said homes all over the county have been selling quicker lately due to low inventory.
"Recently, I put a house on the market that I felt like was kind of a high listing price, and it sold the same day," he said. "There's just not a lot of inventory."
According to RAYAC reports, the number of active listings during the fourth quarter of 2015 was down 529 homes in York County compared to the fourth quarter of 2014.
Any day now: Despite the low inventory, Northern York, West Shore and Hanover districts are still seeing houses sit unsold for long periods of time.
Northern York, despite major increases in homes sold and median sale price, leads the way with an average time on the market of 106 days. Likewise, besides otherwise strong figures, West Shore homes sit on the market for an average of 95 days.
Hanover homes were on the market for an average of 87 days. The district has experienced a 71 percent growth in home sales since 2010, but at 191 sold, it's still the second smallest market in the county.
Thomas said homes in these districts tend to sit on the market longer due to high prices and because they border other areas, such as Maryland or Harrisburg, that encourage buyers to just look further out.
Looking ahead: RAYAC's report indicates that foreclosure filings in 2015 were down in the county to 1,217, which is the lowest amount since 2006. Thomas said he sees that number dropping further in 2016.
"Pennsylvania had a lot (of foreclosures) to begin with," he said. "That number should be coming down now."
The housing market continued its strong sales numbers in January with an 8 percent increase in home sales and 7 percent increase in median sale price over Jan. 2015. Dallastown led the way with 26 homes sold for the month.
Thomas said he expected the upward trend to continue despite the recent snow accumulations.
— Reach David Weissman at email@example.com.