Last year (2016), the Steel City of Pittsburgh topped the list of “Most Undervalued Cities”, a ranking that is determined on the basis of the quality of life, home values/square foot, crime rate, extreme temperature days, and walkability. Pittsburgh suburbs, in particular, have been shown to be an affordable option for many — from young professionals to growing families to older generations who desire more space and disposable income.
Rosy times ahead
Since 2015, the trend for real estate in the Pittsburgh suburbs has been on the up and up. This, in spite of increasing mortgage interest rates and limited inventory of marketable housing.
The CEO of Howard Hanna Real Estate Services mentions that “Pittsburgh-area neighborhoods that have been hot in recent years continued that pace last year and, in some cases, warmed up others nearby.” As the city neighborhoods get satiated, and demand for housing continues, the spill-over is accommodated in the outlying suburbs.
Within the city reaches, Lawrenceville continued to hold the top spot; followed by the Highland Park/East Liberty community; and then Downtown, which Mr. Hanna said has seen the highest percentage of growth.
As popular communities become overpriced and overpopulated, buyers create new markets nearby, he said.
Pittsburgh Suburbs – A Quick Study
While the real estate market has slowed down dramatically across the nation over the past five years, making it harder for prospective buyers to find a house, Pittsburgh has actually seen a slight increase, according to data from one real estate website.
Ralph McLaughlin, chief economist for Trulia, said he thought Pittsburgh might be faring better than other metropolitan areas, in part, because it has a sizable number of vacant homes. This surplus of available real estate equates to affordable housing and renting prices. The built-in infrastructure of the city allows sellers and landlords to maintain a relatively level, affordable market rate.
Mt. Lebanon, outside of the city’s perimeters has witnessed fast-paced growth, followed closely by Cranberry, Peters, and Adams.
While the ongoing sales and purchase of existing real estate carries on at a brisk pace, the fact is that a paucity of new development is causing a stranglehold in the market. According to Mr. Hanna, a lot of housing demand was on account of part-time workers coming into the rural or south suburban Pennsylvania, and now with impending job cuts, it’s a wait-and-watch time for the real estate market.
Why the suburbs?
The parameters that most young families look out for while investing in real estate in the suburbs are: safety, public amenities, schools. Bradford Woods and Franklin Park top the list in desirability for millennials.
The outlook for suburban housing in areas like Upper St. Claire and Leet Township show a marked lean towards ownership versus leasing, and this trend continues in other outlying areas of Pittsburgh as well.
It goes without saying that apart from the factors mentioned above, the economics of the deal swings in favor of suburban housing with the prices being much easier on the pocket as compared to staying in the metropolitan areas. This being said, what are a few minutes more commute to work, when the options are staying in quieter, more salubrious environs?