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Economy & Business

Pittsburgh Housing Prices Still On the Rise

The price of housing in Pittsburgh increased modestly over the course of 2011, bucking a national trend of declining home prices.

The nonprofit PittsburghTODAY studied existing home sales and refinancing activity completed in 2011 to determine that local home prices in southwestern Pennsylvania rose 0.8% over the past year.

That's especially good news when compared with 14 other urban areas across the country, said PittsburghTODAY program director Doug Heuck.

"Every other one of these 14 regions is lower, with Richmond and Minneapolis being down nearly five percent over the last year," said Heuck. "It makes a big difference. It makes people here more mobile, and gives their net assets more of a boost."

He said the 0.8% increase in 2011 means Pittsburgh-area home prices have risen 6.7% over the past five years. Among the 14 other regions studied, prices were down by an average of 12.3% since 2006; that's a 19% differential.

Heuck said the new trend is quite a turnaround.

"It used to be in Pittsburgh that people were essentially getting poorer, because housing appreciation here was much slower than the rapid growth areas on the coasts and in such places as Phoenix and Denver, and your home value is typically the greatest asset a person has," said Heuck.

Heuck noted that the lack of a so-called "housing bubble" in Pittsburgh turned out to be a boon to the city.

"As people say, there was no party, and so there really was no hangover," Heuck said.