Allentown, Pittsburgh see spikes in homeownership

By Kelly Leighton | Dec. 6, 2017 | 3 min. read

Homeowners are plentiful in these two regions in Pennsylvania.

Allentown and Pittsburgh both scored in the top ten in®’s recently-released top 10 metros with huge increases in homeownership list. The site analyzed homeownership rates from 2014 to 2017 of 75 of the largest metros.

Allentown landed in fifth place. The current homeownership rate is nearly 75 percent, and the three-year homeownership change is up 7.3 percent, according to®. The median home price was $225,050, which is below the national average.

Greater Lehigh Valley Realtors® President-elect Sean LaSalle said part of this is due to a local healthy economy. “The Lehigh Valley has the most balanced and diversified economy in Pennsylvania. The Lehigh Valley is also very affordable, and with its close proximity to Philadelphia and New York City, it really is an attractive commuter destination to both of those cities, as well as a target for relocating companies. Companies like Amazon, Walmart and Nestle all have fulfillment centers here, and FedEx is building a large ground distribution center as well. All of these companies bring jobs to the area. The Lehigh Valley has seen very good growth,” he said, noting that Allentown’s Neighborhood Improvement Zone has helped to recently add trendy restaurants, shops, an upscale hotel and a minor league hockey arena.

“It’s adding to the attractions that already exist in the valley, like the Sands Casino, a minor league baseball stadium, an international airport, museums, great schools and colleges and beautiful parks,” he added. “There are so many things to do in the Lehigh Valley, there is definitely no shortage of entertainment options.”

LaSalle noted that it is “definitely a sellers’ market,” so those coming to the area should prepare to move quickly on homes. “Home prices are up 4.4 percent from a year ago. There is an extreme shortage of homes for sale. In November, three of the four homes I had listed all received multiple offers. Homes are selling fast. In the past week alone, the homes that have sold were on the market for an average of 29 days,” he said.

Pittsburgh fell one spot below Allentown, coming in sixth. The current homeownership rate in the Steel City is 74 percent, while homeownership has risen 7.2 percent in the past three years. The median home price is significantly below the national average, coming in at $174,950.

Charlene Haislip, president of the Realtors® Association of Metropolitan Pittsburgh, said sales are “definitely up.”

“There is a reason we are ranked so highly,” she said. “We’re affordable. Yes, it is a good deal to buy here.”

Haislip said that in recent years, Pittsburgh has been home to more technology companies, attracting new buyers. “I am hoping millennials are getting courageous to buy despite student debt,” she said. “Rents in Pittsburgh are high compared to what you can buy. It’s more out of balance.”

“Pittsburgh is wonderful,” Haislip said. “We are this little gem that people are just starting to consider to reside in. The people in this town are just wonderful. When new transplants come in, the first thing I hear from out-of-town buyers is how real people here are. I think that’s what it’s about. We’re a beautiful place. With the hills and the rivers, it is so visually appealing,” she added.

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