A Look at the Local Housing Market

In light of the reassessment-delayed until 2013 when new values will be fully implemented-and the County’s 21% 1 mill tax increase-to go into effect immediately and to be paid on the upcoming tax bill-it is worth noting that the median home sale price in Allegheny County rose 43% over the last eleven years from $84k in 2000 to $120k in 2011. The dollar volume of sales rose to $2.2 billion from $2 billion in 2000 but the total number of sales declined from over 18k in 2000 t0 14k in 2011. That’s according to the year end report of sales complied by RealStats.

The data also covers the adjacent four counties of Beaver, Butler, Washington, and Westmoreland which comprise but do not fully account for the Pittsburgh metro area. The median sales price for the five county area in 2011 was $125k. Washington County had the biggest percentage increase in median sales price (60%) while Beaver had the smallest (22%).

Using that $125k 2011 value as a proxy for the metro area, Pittsburgh would fall into the grouping with regions like Cincinnati ($126k), Spartanburg ($124k), Buffalo ($123k), Rochester ($123k), Las Vegas ($122.7k), and Wichita ($120.9k) based on the median sales price in the 3rd quarter of 2011 according to the National Association of Realtors. Since 2008 the median sales price in Las Vegas fell from where it stood at $220.5k; many of the other metros in that $130-120k range were there or close by in 2008.

Sales Down in Some Districts

In last week’s Brief we delved into the issue of the upcoming reassessment and how a sample of two months of home sales compared to the assessed values on those sales. With more than 1,600 sales, the cumulative sales prices exceeded the cumulative assessed values by 22 percent. That countywide sales/assessed gap can be used as a barometer for individual sales, sales by municipality, and sales by school districts to see how County taxes might be affected.

There are 43 school districts in the County: twelve of them contain one municipality (so the population and tax base of the municipality and the district are essentially identical) and the remainder is multi-municipal. There were a few communities that reported no sales in the months we considered, but there was at least one sale in every one of the 43 school districts.

Eight school districts ended up in the position of having their cumulative sales end up lower than the cumulative assessed values on those sales. This ranged from 0.20% lower in Clairton to 17% lower in Cornell. The largest district in this group of eight was Penn Hills (one of the twelve sole municipal school districts) where cumulative sales were 8% lower than the cumulative assessed values on those sales.

The list of districts comprises much of Mon Valley with Clairton, West Mifflin (-2%), McKeesport (-4%), and South Allegheny (-14%) all registering a negative sales/assessed gap.

The Southwest PA Housing Market—A Home Run?

REALStats has released its 2010 year end report on housing data for the five county area of southwestern Pennsylvania (Allegheny, Beaver, Butler, Washington, and Westmoreland counties) and included in that data is a wealth of information going back two decades to 1990. The data is exclusively residential-arm’s length sales of homes, townhomes, and duplexes with a minimum price of $10k-and provides a longitudinal view of the trends in the housing market in this corner of the state.

How does the sample’s largest county (Allegheny) stack up in comparison to the sample as a whole? From 1990-2010, the report shows:

  • The average sale price in Allegheny County rose 84% (from $83k to $152k), slightly less than the five-county average (87%). Beginning in 1992, the average sale price in Butler surpassed Allegheny ($91k to $89k) and, by 2010, the gap had widened to $53k with the average sale price in Butler standing at $205k. The average sale prices in Beaver ($113k) and Westmoreland ($133k) were lower.
  • Virtually the same trend exhibited itself when the median price was examined: Allegheny grew 89% ($63k to $120k) but the sample average grew 97% ($63k to $123k).
  • Some $2.1 billion in sales volume occurred in 2010 in Allegheny, which represented 60% of the five-county area total ($3.6 billion). Allegheny’s highest year was 2006 with $2.6 billion in sales while the high point for the five-county area came in 2005 ($4.8 billion).
  • The number of home sales in Allegheny is down from the 2004 high when 20,849 and stood at 14,203 in 2010. The total for the five-county area in 2010 was 24,016 with the high point-34,804-met in 2004.
  • The rate of foreclosure has risen sharply. Up 189% in Allegheny County but far outpaced by the five-county average of 342%. There were more than 3,500 foreclosures in the area in 2010, with just over 2,000 of these in Allegheny.