Housing Prices Rise Slowly

Photo by Paul McCarthy


Housing appreciation in southwestern Pennsylvania remains low compared to benchmark regions. But that doesn’t mean home sales are slack, real estate services say.

“It’s a pretty healthy market in the City of Pittsburgh right now and that spills into suburban markets,” said Tom Ceponis, senior vice president, Howard Hanna Real Estate Services. “Our biggest Achilles heel right now in the market is we just don’t have enough inventory to sell. There’s been a lot less listings in the market. In the past three to four years listings have been off dramatically.”

Housing prices across southwestern Pennsylvania appreciated 3.27 percent in the third quarter compared to a year ago, according to data from the Federal Data Finance Agency.

Among the Pittsburgh Today benchmark regions, only Baltimore had a lower housing appreciation rate.

But Pittsburgh’s housing market is more impressive over the longer term. The region’s 10-year appreciation rate was the fifth-highest of all benchmark regions at 20.51 percent.

“The neat thing about the western Pennsylvania market is we do not see those incredible ups and downs that you see in other markets,” said Ceponis. “The appreciation is typically three to five percent and that’s pretty much what it’s always been if you look back over the past 20 to 25 years. Pittsburgh has always been very stable and steady.”

There are many factors that go into housing appreciation: location and condition are two. Lack of inventory is a particular concern in places in the region where demand is high, such as certain city neighborhoods that have become increasingly popular places to live.

Neighborhoods such as Lawrenceville, South Side, Shadyside and Squirrel Hill lead the way in demand in the City of Pittsburgh. Still, demand exceeds available housing, Ceponis said.

“Part of the problem is people want to sell their houses, but say ‘where will I go?’ and that’s the problem we’re fighting with right now. There are buyers out there right now all over the place.”