Yes, You Can Still Snag a House in the Pittsburgh Area for Under $200,000
Rosa Colucci shares her tips for finding an economically priced home, such as this four-bedroom Victorian that recently went under agreement in Brighton Heights.
With inflation at an all-time high, are there any affordable gems left on the market for under $200,000 in Pittsburgh? The good news is that there are, but if you’re hoping to snag one, be ready for a ride.
For example, Sara Augustine, an agent with ReMax City Life, recently listed 1109 Davis Ave. in Brighton Heights for $179,900 (MLS#1540982) — and it went under agreement within a few days.
Jeanie Leggate grew up in the all-brick Victorian, which she says was cherished by her parents. It has four bedrooms and one full bathroom, as well as many original finishes throughout its 2,200 square feet.
Built in 1917, the home was purchased by Leggate’s parents, Richard and Patricia Leggate, in 1973, just before they married.
“My mom passed away in 2019, and my dad stayed until he died last December,” Leggate says.
The home has a gorgeous front porch with original tongue-in-groove ceiling and a three-panel oak door with leaded divided sidelights.
Once inside, beefy wooden beams and a beautiful staircase are just two of the outstanding features. There also is a built-in glass cabinet and a large fireplace with the original tile façade.
A pair of pocket doors leads to the dining room, where a large window seat is parked over the radiator. The room has another fireplace as well as built-in shelving. Further on, the remodeled kitchen was a source of great pride for Richard.
“My dad tore the kitchen and breakfast room down to the studs and remodeled the entire space,” Leggate says.
Besides new cabinets and countertops, he added a bar where the longtime couple would share a special daily ritual.
“They came home from work every day, Monday through Friday, and shared a glass of wine together while they talked about their day,” Leggate says. “I was very lucky.”
The kitchen also has a five-gas burner cooktop, wall oven and lots of storage space.
“My mom was Italian, she liked to make big meals,” Leggate says. “We called it ‘Patty Lee’s Kitchen.’”
The level backyard, where there’s room for a garden and plenty of play space, includes a large deck that’s perfect for entertaining. Inside, a stained-glass window with a white swan in the water is featured above the landing as you take the staircase to the second floor.
“It was original with the house,” Leggate says. “We had new windows installed twice over the life of the house, but [my father] never let them touch that window.”
The second floor has four nicely sized bedrooms as well as the home’s only bathroom. The entire house retains the original hardwood floors, doors, trim, millwork, door handles and locksets.
On the third floor, Leggate and her brother remodeled the attic into a small apartment.
“It was my little getaway,” Leggate says.
The home looked very different when her mom lived there, Leggate says. The paint colors were dark and all of the furnishings were Victorian. After her dad died, Leggate, who is a medic for the City of Pittsburgh, had help getting the property ready for sale.
“I have a wonderful group of friends,” she says. “We stripped all of the old carpet and painted the walls white.”
She notes her dad, who instilled his love for DIY in her, never had a tradesman come into the home.
“My dad could fix anything,” she says. “We never called a plumber, he just knew how to do it all.”
Now that house is under agreement, Legette hopes the new owner will enjoy her dad’s backyard garden and that — just as her dad did — will fix up the house to their liking.
“The house is livable so I hope I get to see it when they are done with the next phase,” she says.
Tips for Finding an Affordable Home in Pittsburgh’s Hot Market
Because most buyers looking for a home at the $200,000 price point tend to be first-time homebuyers, ReMax City Life agent Sara Augustine has a strategy to bring them to a successful conclusion in a super-competitive Pittsburgh market.
“As an agent, I want to get my buyers in as many houses as possible,” she says.
Having the agent in your corner is just the beginning of helpful tips for first-time homebuyers; taking advantage of current interest rates and programs is another. If the buyer has a credit score that’s close to 800, Augustine also suggests putting down 3% of the home’s selling price.
“If you put more money down, it would certainly strengthen the offer, but I recommend you hold on to the cash for other stuff,” she says.
Since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, sellers have generally not offered any seller assistance toward closing costs because they have so many buyers lined up. It may take a few offers before you land a house.
Other assistance is available through Federal Housing Administration and Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency programs, which help homebuyers who fall within certain financial guidelines make their home-buying dreams a reality.
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 email@example.com.
About: Brighton Heights (brightonheights.org)
Planes, Trains & Automobiles: An average 21-minute commute to the airport. Daily transport via Port Authority. Street parking, Rideshare.
Schools: Pittsburgh Public Schools (pghschools.org). Magnet, neighborhood and CAPA (Creative and Performing Arts School) available.
Neighborhood: The neighborhood is going through a renewal, thanks to its location along Route 65 as well as an amazing inventory of stately homes and churches that are loaded with ornamental woodwork, stained glass windows and fireplaces. The neighborhood has a yearly house tour where many of these homes are featured. Large maple trees, a local swimming pool, access to Riverview Park and a strong community group are attracting many buyers hoping to revitalize the community. Brighton Heights is home to 11 separate sets of city steps that are used to connect the neighborhood.