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Development & Transportation

How much your home is worth in Pittsburgh could be a matter of a few blocks

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Margaret J. Krauss
/
90.5 WESA

The cost to buy a home in the Pittsburgh region has increased by at least 20% since 2016, according to a new analysis by the Reinvestment Fund. Some neighborhoods, such as the East End, Lawrenceville and parts of the North Side, saw home prices nearly double.

The map below shows a checkerboard of home values as unique as Pittsburgh’s 90 neighborhoods. Parts of the North Side were found to have some of the highest home values merely blocks away from some of the lowest home values in the analysis.

“We are a very nuanced kind of market,” said Greg Flisram, executive director of the Urban Redevelopment Authority. And so you’ll have diametrically opposite things happening within a two-block, three-block, [or] four-block area.”

The URA and the Allegheny County Economic Development agency commissioned the report.

In other regions of the country, market value tends to change gradually, said Flisram. “It’s a very interesting real estate market here.”

While higher home prices are good for homeowner equity, they also put financial pressure on low- and moderate-income households looking to buy. The study found those households saw the areas where they could afford to buy a house shrink.

With the Federal Reserve expected to increase interest rates three times next year, home loans could get more expensive. And as a result, home prices may stabilize.

The analysis also found that Allegheny County and Pittsburgh did not suffer from the foreclosure crisis to the same extent as other parts of the country. Foreclosure filings had been cut almost in half since the previous report in 2016. The data for the 2021 report does not reflect any impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Only 27% of county residents live in markets with elevated foreclosure filings. About 74% of county residents live in markets with strong housing demand and low levels of blight and foreclosure.

Black (66%) and Hispanic (32%) residents are more likely to live in markets with blight and foreclosure filings than white (21%) residents in Allegheny County.

The analysis supports offering housing services for neighborhoods categorized as “transitional,” which rank between the strongest markets and the weakest. Targeting affordable housing programs at these areas is key to keeping the market stable and preventing a wave of foreclosures, according to the analysis.

Neighborhoods, like parts of Larimer, are deemed “transitional” markets. Larimer shares a border with Bakery Square, which has some of the highest home values.

The URA and the ACED intend to use the report to inform how and where they develop housing programs in the future.

The County may turn its focus toward offering more homeownership programs in the next few years, according to Lance Chimka, director of the Allegheny County Economic Development agency.

“This is a way to create wealth in families and we should be supporting that as a public entity,” Chimka said.

The previous analysis, in 2016, studied the county and city separately. County officials said analyzing Pittsburgh and Allegheny County together gives policymakers a more complete picture of the housing market.

“Markets are complex and tend not to respect municipal boundaries. This analysis will guide policy across the county to ensure funders are maximizing returns on housing investments,” said Chimka. “Especially if we’re paying special attention to migration outside of the city into the county neighborhoods.”

While the city has pockets of overheated markets, Chimka notes the county has far more transitional markets with a glut of housing supply and depressed housing values.

The analysis found Allegheny Valley, Sharpsburg, Etna, Millvale and Mon Valley communities are some examples of transitional markets with affordable homes.

The county hopes to use homeownership programs to keep those areas affordable, Chimka said.