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Pittsburgh-area home sales continue to grow, report shows

| Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2013, 11:46 a.m.

Home sales in the Pittsburgh region continued to improve in December, spurred by a stronger economy.

Sales of new and existing homes jumped 25.6 percent in Allegheny County compared to a year earlier, and totals for the region increased 18.7 percent, according to a report issued on Wednesday.

There were 1,493 sales last month compared to 1,189 last year in Allegheny County, while the total for the five-county region was 2,406 compared to 2,027, said RealStats, a South Side-based real estate information company.

“One force that may have driven the Allegheny County increase was the doubling of cost to record a deed from $78 to $150, effective Jan. 1, 2013,” said Daniel Murrer, RealStats vice president.

The Allegheny County Department of Real Estate had been interested in establishing a flat fee for recordings, instead of a tiered system that started with a basic $78.50 fee and added charges for additional pages and names, said Manager Valerie McDonald Roberts. The county administration recommended the fee change, which was adopted last year by County Council.

Recording fees in Beaver and Butler counties are $55, Washington County, $63.50, and Westmoreland County, $62.

“The fall (housing) market was very good and buyers decided to close on their purchase before any tax change occurs in 2013,” said Jim Dolanch, associate broker of Century 21 Frontier Realty in McMurray.

“Buyer confidence in the economy helped make November a strong sales month and December a strong month as buyers wanted to close on their homes before the end of the year,” said Anthony Cimino, broker/owner of Re/Max Heritage Realty in Murrysville.

The region's average home price increased 12.9 percent in December to $167,002 from $147,918, RealStats said. The median price rose 6.5 percent to $129,950 from $122,000, where half the houses sold for more and half for less,

Sales of new houses had a 64 percent increase inDecember with 266 houses sold compared to 162 a year ago.

NVR Inc., parent company of Ryan Homes, continued as the leader with 78 sales followed by Heartland Homes Inc., now also part of NVR, with 48. Maronda Homes Inc. recorded 36 sales. In December 2011, NVR had 59 sales, Heartland 22 and Maronda 19.

Allegheny County had 144 new home sales followed by Butler with 40. Washington County had 38, Westmoreland 23 and Beaver 21.

Sam Spatter is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7843 or sspatter@tribweb.com.

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