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The Mysteries of Pittsburgh Real Estate

Disaster fails to strike local housing markets; experts surprised


Unless you've been living under a rock -- or in a nice rental property -- you probably know that the housing market is in a tailspin everywhere.

Everywhere, it seems, except Pittsburgh.

"U.S. home prices continued to plunge in April," screeched a recent business-news headline. According to one well-regarded index, in 20 cities around the nation, prices dropped that month by more than 15 percent from the previous April.

In Pittsburgh, though, prices held steady. RealSTATS, a firm that tracks property sales in southwestern Pennsylvania, reports that in the Pittsburgh region, housing prices dipped only slightly from April 2007. With a median price of $112,000, homes were selling for more than they had two years before.

"We heard that there was a recession, but we decided not to participate," one industry professional joked in the report.

"I think a lot of times people hear the national headlines, and they don't realize it's a different story here," agrees Chris Briem, an economist and numbers guru at the University of Pittsburgh. "Right now, our real-estate market doesn't look like elsewhere."

For one thing, foreclosure rates are far lower: In early 2008, for example, the number of foreclosures nationwide more than doubled over the year before; in the Pittsburgh region, the number of foreclosures dropped slightly. Read More

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