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Region's year-over-year home sales rise 10.6%

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By Thomas Olson
Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
 

The number of homes sold in the Pittsburgh area during the past nine months increased 10.6 percent over the same period in 2012, pushed by builders and buyers who are more confident about the economy and sellers who are getting better prices.

Sales of new and existing homes in the five-county Pittsburgh region through Sept. 30 reached 21,547, compared with 19,475 during the same period last year, according to RealStats Inc., a South Side firm that tracks transactions.

“For about six years, the economy was not percolating enough to cause real estate to move. Now, it is,” said George Hackett, president of Coldwell Banker Pittsburgh.

Higher prices these days are encouraging people to trade up to bigger homes or, in the case of retirees, to downsize or move away. Many had been unable to sell for years because they owed more on their mortgages than their homes were worth. The average home in this area sold for $173,868 during the past nine months, or 4.3 percent higher than $166,727 a year ago.

In addition, with 30-year mortgage interest rates still in the “4 percent range,” they are low enough to attract buyers and increase sales in the region and nationally, said Hackett, whose firm is one of about 800 nationwide owned by Coldwell Banker.

RealStats data cover Allegheny, Beaver, Butler, Washington and Westmoreland counties.

Sales of new homes reflected a resurgent market. Top seller NVR Inc. sold 607 homes in the past nine months, compared with 377 a year earlier. Maronda Homes Inc. sold 204, versus 191 the year before.

“Builders sense more people are willing to buy, so they are building more homes,” said Jeff Martin, president of the Builders Association of Metropolitan Pittsburgh. “And people understand the cost of homes is only going to continue to rise, so they might as well get in now.”

Existing homes accounted for the majority of area home sales, however, with 20,116 homes changing hands through Sept. 30. That was 10.8 percent more than 18,148 last year.

The rise in Pittsburgh-area home sales roughly reflected the national trend. According to data from the National Association of Realtors, about 3.5 million existing homes were sold in the United States from January through August, an 11.8 percent increase over the year-ago period.

NAR spokesman Walter Molony said pent-up demand largely accounts for existing-home sales, which the association forecasts will increase by 11 percent for 2013.

Thomas Olson is a Trib Total Media staff writer. He can be reached at 412-320-7854 or at tolson@tribweb.com.

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