Pittsburgh region posted healthy 2012 home sale figures
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Last year was a turning point for home sales in the Pittsburgh region.
Each of the five counties posted healthy increases in the number of homes changing hands compared to 2011, ranging from an 8 percent increase in Butler County to an impressive 17 percent increase in real estate transactions in Beaver County, according to data compiled by RealSTATs, a South Side-based real estate information company.
The number of new and existing homes sold last year in Allegheny, Beaver, Butler, Washington and Westmoreland counties rose 13.4 percent to 26,628 homes from 23,481 in 2011, marking the region's first annual gain in home sales since 2004.
"This was the region's first positive year in terms of the number of houses sold in the past eight years," said Dan Murrer, vice president of RealSTATs. "The number of home sales in Pittsburgh peaked in 2004 and had continued to fall until 2011."
Allegheny County saw an additional 1,909 home sales as transactions climbed to 15,962 from 14,053. Beaver County home sales increased by 273 to 1,889 from 1,616. Butler County real estate transactions moved up by 175 homes to 2,317 from 2,142. Washington County jumped 241 to 2,524 from 2,283; and Westmoreland County home sales rose by 549 to 3,936 from 3,387 in 2011.
While the region saw increases in home sales, Butler County's real estate recovery began three years ago. This year was Butler's third year of increasing home sales. The average home price in Butler County also jumped 8 percent last year to $237,167 from $219,520 in 2011. The average price for homes throughout the region rose 4.7 percent to $166,336 from $158,814 in 2011.
"I believe a number of factors contributed to the healthy explosion of housing activity," Mr. Murrer said. "First, consumers had the confidence that they could afford to buy a home in 2012. Second, banks had the confidence to loan to those buyers. Low interest rates made buying attractive, and the tax uncertainties of 2013 created a surge at the year's end.
"The other positive of Pittsburgh-area housing is that it continues to appreciate. Over the last 10 years, prices increased between 3 and 4 percent annually. That's a far better return on investment than we're getting at the bank and safer than the stock market."
First Published January 19, 2013 12:00 am