Why Is Pittsburgh’s Housing Market Booming in the Pandemic?

Despite everything that has gone wrong in 2020, residential real estate is enjoying a record year.
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PHOTO: SHUTTERSTOCK

There are bidding wars breaking out daily in western Pennsylvania … over homes for sale.

“It’s very much a seller’s market,” says Tom Hosack, president of West Penn Multi-List and president and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices The Preferred Realty. “Inventory is down to a little less than a month and most homes sell within days of going onto the market.”

What’s surprising to Hosack is the surge in home buying is happening in the middle of a pandemic.

“It’s the craziest market I’ve ever seen in my career anywhere,” Hosack says. “In January sales were good but the lockdown in March stopped everything. Since May 15, when things reopened, it’s been unbelievable.”

Hosack says low mortgage interest rates are part of the reason for the housing boom, but that the pandemic has also had an impact.

“It’s created demand because more people are working from home and they want more space to function. They’re also willing to spend more for the house they really want because they are spending more time living in it,” Hosack says.

Hosack says prior to the pandemic there were signs of a migration to more rural areas where the cost of living is lower. “You can get a lot more home with lower taxes and the COVID experience amplifies that movement,” he says.

The average sales price for a home in the region is up 17% to $227,000 and Hosack believes that price increase is permanent.

“It’s not a bad time to buy because prices have gone up. This is the new norm,” he says. “It is a good time to buy while interest rates are low.”  

Hosack expects the housing market to remain consistent through the end of the year. As for 2021?

“It’s too early to say. There’s the election, the pandemic and the economy to consider … too many unknowns right now.”

Categories: The 412