Region's home sales are up from year ago

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Home sales for the metropolitan Pittsburgh region have marked 12 consecutive months of year-over-year increases as of the end of September, providing more evidence that the housing market -- at least locally -- is well on the road to recovery.

Real estate agents in the region closed on 128 more homes this September than a year ago and added nearly $30 million to the total amount spent on home sales over last year, according to RealSTATs, a South Side real estate information service.

Buyers spent $362.7 million on 2,209 homes last month, up from $332.2 million on 2,081 homes in September 2011, representing gains of 8.9 percent and 6.2 percent respectively for the five-county region that includes Allegheny, Beaver, Butler, Washington and Westmoreland counties.

"We can definitely say the real estate recovery is here to stay, at least locally and in the residential home market," said Dan Murrer, vice president of RealSTATs.

Each of the five counties saw dollar gains in existing home sales for the month, ranging from $1.4 million in Washington County to $25.2 million in Allegheny County. The number of existing homes sold rose 7.8 percent last month from 1,917 to 2,066.

The average home price for existing homes rose 5.3 percent from $146,331 to $154,104. The median home price for existing homes rose 6.2 percent from $117,000 to $124,250.

On the other hand, new home sales fell 12.8 percent in the five-county region from 164 units in September 2011 to 143 units sold last month. And dollar activity for new homes dropped 15.8 percent from $52.7 million to $44.4 million.

The average price of a new home here declined from $321,359 to $310,346, while the median price of a new home fell from $291,969 to $275,339.

"Existing home sales are very healthy in the Pittsburgh region while the month's new construction figures represent what I believe to be an anomaly," Mr. Murrer said.

"It is worth noting that two things play to the advantage of the existing home market," he said. "First, buyers of existing homes generally pay less per square foot, thus making an existing home more affordable. Second, the tax bill on an existing home tends to be less than a new one.

"In today's economic climate, homebuyers may be more sensitive to both price and tax issues."

homes - businessnews

Tim Grant: tgrant@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1591.


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