Economy
9:11 pm
Tue February 14, 2012

January Home Sales Up in Pittsburgh Region – Fourth Straight Month of Growth

The year-over-year increase for January new home sales in southwestern Pennsylvania was 4.6 percent compared to a year ago. This follows three consecutive months of increases, including December's 9 percent increase. That's according to RealSTATs, a firm that tracks real estate information for Allegheny, Butler, Washington, Westmoreland, and Beaver Counties.

Perhaps the best news is that the upward trend is expected to continue.

"The train is beginning to leave the station," said Daniel Murrer, vice president of RealSTATs. "Things are picking up, more home selling, more dollars spent on homes has a tremendous ripple effect throughout the economy. Everyone associated with the home transaction plus the folks that do home improvements, all of their business looks to pick up if this trend continue."

And, Murrer said, he expects it will continue. Only one county, Beaver, bucked the trend with a decrease in home sales for January. That may be due to sections of the county that are continuing to struggle with higher unemployment, lower consumer confidence, and having more difficulty securing financing. But, Murrer said he doesn't think the market will continue to decline.

"I would anticipate that Beaver will pick up also," he said, "it's a matter of — if you can imagine a train moving, it's the engine and the first few cars that are moving forward, and ultimately the caboose gets pulled along, too. I think the resurgence in the market will be felt in the higher end neighborhoods, and that will trickle down to the lower end."

The region's average home price rose 1.6 percent from $147,763 to $150,165. RealSTATs said existing home sales overall rose 6.8 percent in the five-county region.