After a particularly rough winter, the real estate market in southwestern Pennsylvania began to heat up this summer, and according to a September report from the West Penn Multi-List, Inc., the numbers are continuing to strengthen.
The number of new home listings in September (3,327) increased 8.83 percent in comparison to the number from September 2013. Residential homes placed under agreement and average home sale price also increased, a sign that houses are moving and the market is healthy.
The numbers come on the heals of the region being named among the most stable housing markets in the nation.
“In September, [we’ve seen] improving confidence, improving employment and additional liquidity in the mortgage market making it easier for people to buy or sell their homes,” said Tom Hosack, president of the West Penn Multi-List and president and CEO of Northwood Realty Services.
New listings from January to September 2014 are on track with last year’s numbers. This year, there have been nearly 31,000 new listings, a less than 1 percent increase from last year.
But that doesn’t mean there is an abundance of homes, according to Hosack.
“The market has been somewhat constrained by the inventory. Inventories are near all-time lows,” Hosack said. “It’s a very good signal when more houses are coming onto the market. That means there will be more homes available or purchase, which should improve the market overall.”
Hosack said the numbers in January, February and March of this year were concerning. It was a “winter for the ages, and one we never want to go through again,” he said.
“We started a little weaker in the year because of the weather and the polar vortex,” Hosack said. “But as we moved through the year, we picked up more and more business, and it continues to be a better and better market.”
July's numbers showed stronger numbers through some pent up demand.
Hosack said the biggest challenge moving forward is that first-time home buyers cannot get financing easily.
“Hopefully, from what I hear, the government is aware of those problems and are trying to fix it,” Hosack said. “But as long as that continues, it will still put some pressure on [the market], because it will provide a lack of the first-time home buyers.”
The report gathers statistics from 13 counties: Allegheny, Armstrong, Beaver, Butler, Washington, Westmoreland, Fayette, Greene, Clarion, Lawrence, Mercer, Somerset and Indiana.