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Home sales continue to improve in Pittsburgh region, report shows

Home sales in the Pittsburgh market jumped 18.1 percent in May, compared to a year ago, marking the eighth month of increased sales, said a report released on Tuesday.

Sales in the five-county market totaled 2,495 houses last month, up from 2,113 in the same month last year.

Allegheny County led with 1,562, up 282 from 1,280 sold in the county during May 2011, according to RealStats, a South Side-based real estate information company.

Westmoreland County logged 327 sales, compared to 310 a year ago; Butler County had 230 versus 185; and Washington County, 210 compared to 190. Sales in Beaver County were 166 last month and 148 a year ago.

The average housing price of $167,145 represents a 4.4 percent increase over $160,071 a year ago.

“People are now more secure about the economy,” said Helen Hanna Casey, president of Howard Hanna Real Estate Services. “Low mortgage interest rates have had a major effect (on sales), with rates at 3.5 percent providing a $30,000 savings on a house priced at $200,000 when rates were 6 percent.”

In addition, she said, the region’s continued low inventory of houses causes multiple bids. “If this continues, we will continue to have low inventory.”

Thirteen homes sold for $1 million or more, compared to six last May, she said.

Roger Dolanch, broker/owner of C21 Frontier Realty in Peters, said natural gas companies drilling Marcellus shale helped to boost the housing market.

“We have found their corporate personnel purchasing houses,” he said, “but we’ve also noticed that 37 percent of our sales are cash.” When drilling initially began in Western Pennsylvania, he said, shale-gas employees typically leased but did not purchase homes.

RealStats said sales of existing homes were 2,328, up 17.3 percent over 1,984 a year ago, and new-home sales increased 29.5 percent to 167 from 129.

NVR Inc., parent company for Ryan Homes, continued its dominance in the market with 51 sales, followed by Maronda Homes Inc. with 39. Heartland Homes Inc. logged four sales and Bellevue Park LP of Cranberry had five.

Nationwide, single-family housing production increased for a third consecutive month. Builders pulled more permits for single- and multi-family construction, according to the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Census Bureau. Seasonally adjusted annual rate of single-family housing starts rose 3.2 percent to 516,000 units, the best pace since December.

When permits for single- and multi-family homes are combined, the increase for May is 7.9 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 780,000, the strongest pace since September 2008.

Although the Midwest, South and West posted gains, the Northeast registered an 8 percent decline.

Sam Spatter is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7843 or [email protected].


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