Region's real estate market persisting

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The Pittsburgh region's real estate market continued to chug along in August -- its 11th straight month of growth.

"This comes off of seven years of consecutive decline," said Daniel Murrer, vice president of RealSTATs, a local real estate information service. "It's significant. We're in the first year of positive growth in eight years."

The number of homes sold in August in five area counties rose 8.5 percent to 2,690 from 2,480 for the same month a year ago, according to data released Friday by RealSTATs.

The total value of those sales was $478 million, up 11 percent from nearly $431 million a year earlier.

RealSTATs compiles the data for Allegheny, Beaver, Butler, Washington and Westmoreland counties.

All five counties showed gains, with Allegheny County at the lower end of the spectrum.

That growth, however, was tempered by an odd statistic. Mr. Murrer noted a flattening in August of the median home sale price for the region, which was stuck at $135,000 year-over-year despite the boost in sales.

The median is the midpoint value at which half the homes sold are more expensive and half are less expensive.

"Over the last seven years we had continuous decline in activity, yet price continued to increase," Mr. Murrer said. "We called it the 'Pittsburgh paradox,' where sales continued to fall and values increased. This is almost the flip of that, where you have increasing sales but flattening prices."

Mr. Murrer said he was not sure what factors were at work to produce such a result.

Buyers in Allegheny County paid almost $296 million in August, 9 percent more than the $272 million spent a year ago.

Dollar volume rose 26 percent in Beaver to $24 million; 14 percent in Butler to $57 million; 4.7 percent in Washington to $44 million; and 21 percent in Westmoreland to $57 million.

In terms of the number of homes sold, Allegheny County saw a 6 percent jump to 1,630 from 1,537, but that paled compared to the double-digit percentage jumps experienced in Beaver (29 percent to 195 homes) and Westmoreland (14 percent to 395) counties.

Butler County had the weakest showing with a 3.5 percent rise to 232 homes, while Washington County's numbers rose 7 percent to 238.

homes - businessnews

Jonathan D. Silver: jsilver@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1962.


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