If there is a downturn in the real estate market, can the Lehigh Valley remain competitive? A property expert says the area could be in better shape than other places.

Helen Hanna Casey, CEO of Howard Hanna Real Estate Services, said the market is stabilizing and bidding battles for properties are not “extremely expensive”.

“So what, is there a cooling?” Casey said. “It will depend on the market. Here, because you have all these new jobs coming in, you’re in better shape than places that don’t have new jobs. And Austin, Texas, Boise, Idaho, those are the two most undervalued cities in the country. They’re going to have a big chill.

Casey was in the Lehigh Valley Tuesday morning as the keynote speaker for a meeting of CREW Lehigh Valley, a women’s real estate organization, at the Aster Event Center in Upper Macungie Township. Howard Hanna is an independent, family-owned and operated broker with over 400 offices in 13 states, including the Valley.

She said that in a meeting with brokers at Howard Hanna’s Allentown office, she warned of a declining real estate market. However, projects such as the new Air Products headquarters next to the Aster Event Center are signs that the Valley could hold its own as other markets struggle.

In the latest figures from Greater Lehigh Valley realtors, the market continued to slow in September, “as rising consumer prices and rising mortgage interest rates squeeze homebuyers’ budgets and slow the market. ‘activity”.

While GLVR said closed sales were down 15.9% on the year, the National Association of Realtors said national existing home sales were down nearly 20%.

“There’s going to be an adjustment, but it’s going to affect some markets more than others,” Casey said. “And so if you have industry growth, business growth, like this big [Air Products] turn aside. If you have that, you’re in good shape. I don’t think there will be a big drop.

Other growing areas are the downtown areas of the three towns in the valley, Allentown, Bethlehem and Easton. Casey said many of the downtowns that have brought in new residents have also brought in new businesses, though many of them tend to be restaurants more than retail.

“The idea is to live, work, play,” she said, “but the question is how much retail there is. A lot of the cities I go to have more restaurants now. today.

There is an opportunity for small businesses.

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“Downtowns provide opportunities for new retail entities, not box stores,” Casey said. “And I think because of the pandemic, you’re going to see more and more of that. You are going to see more clothing stores and regular shoe stores. »

She said smaller towns, like Allentown, can successfully combine business and downtown living.

“I think a city like Allentown has a better chance than a place like Pittsburgh or Cleveland,” she said. “Big city centers are, even if there are people living there, they just don’t drive enough people onto the streets. So here you can create synergy.

As for the relentless construction of warehouses in the Valley, Casey said it’s just part of consumer trends that started before the COVID pandemic. People want instant gratification, she said, which is why digital shopping sites like Amazon are here to stay.

Although many prefer to see and feel a purchase in a store, many will still go online to find more variety or something harder to find. Casey said she asked an audience where they bought their clothes and got responses ranging from Amazon to Kohl’s and Macy’s.

“People still want to physically shop,” she said. “But they also want instant gratification saying I need it tomorrow. How can I get it? And I can’t find it in a store.

Morning Call reporter Evan Jones can be reached at [email protected].

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