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A shortage of homes for sale is hampering an otherwise-improving housing market in York County, according to the Realtors Association of York and Adams Counties.

The county's housing market has been a seller's market for the past few months as the lack of homes available drives up prices and prompts quicker sales, said RAYAC President Deborah Goodling.

"Shortages are not common. It's been a very long time since we've had low inventory," Goodling said, struggling to recall the last time there was a home shortage in York County.

More than 3,300 homes were sold across the county over the first seven months of 2017, a 4 percent increase over the same period last year, according to the most recent RAYAC statistics.

Though sales have increased, Goodling said RAYAC was not expecting the market to play out the way it has.

Many home builders are now waiting to build homes until they already have a buyer, adding to the lack of homes available for immediate purchase, Goodling said.

Goodling said she has noticed an uptick in the number of people making improvements on their current homes rather than buying a new home. Student debt might also be affecting the market, with many college graduates unable to such a large expense after paying for school, Goodling added. 

Goodling said RAYAC is expecting somewhat better numbers in August, as families who are buying new homes look to settle in before the start of the new school year. 

Jan. 1 to July 31: The median sale price of the 3,355 homes sold in 2017 climbed to $165,000 — a 4 percent increase over the first seven months of 2016 — though that number represents a 1 percent drop since June 2017, Goodling said.

The Northern York and Southern York school districts have the highest median sales prices — at $219,900 and $219,500, respectively — while homes in the York City School District have the lowest median sales price — $52,000 — despite substantial gains in home prices this year.

More: As housing prices rise, lenders make buying easier

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The median sale price for homes in the York City School District is up 24 percent over last year’s values, jumping more than $10,000 since July 2016.

Five other school districts — Eastern York, Red Lion, South Western, Spring Grove and York Suburban — each saw double-digit gains in their homes’ median sale price, according to RAYAC statistics.

The price of buying a home has increased steadily in many school districts, but 13 of the county’s 16 districts have still seen increases in the number of homes sold when comparing the first seven months of 2017 with the same span in 2016.

“Sales through July are showing a steady increase for York County,” RAYAC President Deborah Goodling wrote in a news release. “We would see better increases in (York and Adams) counties if we had more inventory. Qualified buyers are facing challenges with a shortage of homes for sale and multiple offer situations.”

Home sales rose 35 percent in the York Suburban School District, 19 percent in the Dover School District and 18 percent in the York City School District, accounting for much of the home-sales surge, according to RAYAC data.

More: Would-be buyers can’t find homes

However, home sales in Eastern York School District have dropped 36 percent, while home sales in the West Shore and Dallastown school districts fell by single-digit percentages, the statistics show.

July 2017 vs. July 2016: Those statistics paint a promising picture for York County’s housing market, but data comparing July 2017 with July 2016 isn’t as rosy.

Though the median sale price is up 2 percent across York County, four fewer homes were sold in July 2017 than July 2016. 

Just four York County school districts saw their median sales prices drop when comparing the first seven months of 2017 with the same span last year, but July 2017 housing statistics show prices fell in eight districts compared with July 2016 values.

In each of those eight districts, median sales prices dropped by single-digit percentage points.

On the other end of the spectrum, the median sale price for a home in the Eastern York School District jumped by more than $60,000 between July 2016 and July 2017, but home sales dropped 37 percent, according to RAYAC statistics.

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