Investing in Pennsylvania Real Estate

According to Forbes Magazine the Pittsburgh real estate market is the top market in the United States. There are a number of reasons for this coveted ranking. Pittsburgh has all of the fundamentals of a market that does well in both good and bad economies.

The job market is stable and diversified. Top job creators in the Pittsburgh metro area include hospitals, universities, natural gas production, and high-tech related fields. So a catastrophe in one job sector doesn’t plunge the city into chaos. The days of the old steel mills and single industry dependence are gone. Job growth has reversed, what had been a decade long trend of population loss. Now the majority of Western PA communities are experiencing upticks in population. The new arrivals tend to be younger, well-educated, and well paid.

The city of Pittsburgh has been named the “Most Livable” city in America 3 times, in 2005, 2009, and 2011. A recent write-up about the award stated “Pittsburgh topped a list put out by British magazine The Economist, which ranked Pittsburgh No. 1 in the United States, and 29th worldwide. Forbes gave Pittsburgh high marks for its arts and leisure scene, job prospects, safety and low-cost of living. The article also cited the city’s strong university presence with more than a dozen campuses”.

From a real estate investor’s perspective, the city is a gold mine. Property values have risen steadily over the past 20 years. Even when the market crashed, the value of Pittsburgh property held steady. At the worst point, property values were stagnant for two years.

The pillar of the local property market that attracts investors is the ease of creating positive cash flow. Compared to many American MSA’s the Pittsburgh area is very inexpensive. Median home prices are in the low $120,000 range. Add this to the robust rental market and you have a formula for significant positive cash flow.

Foreign investors, hedge funds, and out-of-state investors have been slow to realize the value of this region. Unlike some of the boom and bust markets that overheat when times are good, South West Pennsylvania has never been a flashy market. Investors have been able to grow their property portfolios with the steady relatively safe growth strategy that creates millionaire investors.

The only down side to this otherwise perfect market is that some of the techniques that investors rely on in other markets are largely irrelevant in Pittsburgh. Short sale specialists will find very little to target in the region. Companies that specialize in buying homes in foreclosure can do well but not like the feeding frenzy that boom and bust cities offer. pittsburgh seo company

Pittsburgh is also a region of neighborhoods. Desirable parts of town co-exist in close proximity to war zones. The difference can be a single street. It takes a deal of local knowledge to know where to invest and what prices to pay. Many out-of-town investors have bought in neighborhoods that they should have avoided, and done so at prices that no local would pay. So it might be a good idea to seek out a local business connection before entering this market.

The biggest opportunity in the region might be for non-real estate investors. People who are looking to get a high rate of return on their retirement accounts should seriously consider looking at Pittsburgh. A steady and safe market is just the ticket for retirement accounts and IRA’s. All you need is an established real estate investor and a self-directed IRA custodian.


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