Hot Property: Buying and Selling in Pittsburgh — and the Zillow Effect

Housing prices vary greatly depending on where in Pittsburgh you want to buy a home.
Home For Sale


This week, we are taking a break from house hunting to talk about buying and selling.  

If you were one of the buyers who got into the ring and successfully purchased a home this year, then you know there were a lot of forces at play that contributed to the housing frenzy in Pittsburgh and across the nation.

An inventory shortage took hold as the high demand for single-family housing collided with historically low market rates. This, combined with the slower rate of new builds that was further exacerbated by disruptions in the supply chain, put another cog in the very complicated wheel. 

And yet, you succeeded. 

If you are still shopping for a first or maybe a second home, there’s a little good news. 

Purchasing a house in Pittsburgh is still a good deal in comparison to the rest of the country. Although it is still a seller’s market, is reporting that the median price for a home in the city is $230,000, while the median price per square foot is $158. 

Of course, the actual price is going to vary widely depending on where you are specifically buying.

Pittsburgh-based Niche just released a report that ranked the best Pittsburgh neighborhoods for young professionals in 2021. As expected, Lower, Central and Upper Lawrenceville made the top 20, as did Shadyside, Downtown and the Strip District. East Liberty ranks at No. 10, and the surrounding neighborhoods of Friendship and Bloomfield are also in the mix. 

You can expect to find higher prices in these neighborhoods, with continued aggressive bidding on homes for sale. If you do your homework and look to the outskirts of these neighborhoods, you’re sure to find a better price point while still being able to take advantage of any amenities. 

In the suburbs, the story also varies widely depending on where you look. The farther out you go from the city, the less you will pay for a home, as location is always a driving factor — literally. 

The Zillow Effect

If you follow real estate news, you’ve probably heard that Zillow has halted buying homes through its iBuying program. For those unfamiliar with this transactional process, iBuyers are companies that make cash offers for homes based on comps in the area. Redfin, OpenDoor and Zillow were the major players in this market. 

As part of the iBuying program, Zillow would fix up and flip the homes for a profit. For those who wanted to unload their homes without the hassle of open houses during a pandemic, this was certainly an attractive offer. 

Last week, Zillow announced it was looking to sell 7,000 properties worth $2.8 billion after halting the program. Stories are emerging of houses purchased by Zillow that are now being resold for close to the same price. Once you calculate closing and holding costs, that’s a loss for the company. 

What does this mean for you? Zillow holds properties in target markets that many Pittsburghers like to frequent, retire to or buy a second home in. This includes Phoenix, Tampa, Orlando, Fla., and Raleigh, N.C., to name a few. 

Although the buzz is that Zillow is going to pitch the homes to institutional investors, If you are one of those people looking to secure a retirement or vacation home, this might be a good time for you to cruise the listings on Zillow and make an offer. 

For the rest of you looking to buy or sell a home in what is still a hot Pittsburgh housing market, the drill remains the same. 

Make sure you have your credit in good order, a good down payment for the home, pre-approval from your lender and a great real estate agent who is on top of things when it comes to working on your behalf. 

Set your limits with regard to what you need and what you want out of your home. Needs and wants are two different things, so if the home meets all of your needs — and only one “want” — then this is a home you should consider. 

As we prepare for Thanksgiving, don’t let the holidays stop you from home shopping. A lot of people actually want to close a sale before the year ends, so the ball is in your court. 

See you next week with another great house tour. 

Hot Property is an inside look into unique and historic homes on the market. Each week, Hot Property goes behind the For Sale sign to share the story of a special Pittsburgh-area home. And four times a year, Hot Property gives an in-depth look at the region’s real estate market in Pittsburgh Magazine HOME, tracking housing prices and sales and detailing where the hot properties can be found. Rosa can be reached at

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