This trend is not exclusive to Pittsburgh, as the number of homes on sale nationwide in August 2023 decreased by 7.9% compared to the same period last year.
High interest rates – which have increased from a pandemic-era low of 2.66% in Dec 2020 to a two-decade high of 7.31% in August 2023 for a 30-year mortgage (the most popular home loan in the U.S.) – are to blame for the short supply of homes for sale.
This is because homeowners who locked in cheap rates two or three years ago lack the incentive to put their properties up for sale, especially with talk of a recession in the coming months.
The high interest rates have also kept many potential home buyers out of the real estate market, lowering property demand.
Economy experts predict mortgage rates will come down as we close 2023, but it's unlikely they'll return to 3% or less in the near term.
Lower mortgage rates will not only stimulate the Pittsburgh housing industry by allowing thousands of Pittsburghers who are currently unable to afford a home to return to the real estate market, but also encourage homeowners to sell their properties if they've been holding off on making a move or purchasing a larger home.
Pittsburgh Home Price Trends
It wasn't uncommon during the COVID-19 years (2020-2022) for a home seller to receive multiple offers and several thousand dollars more than their asking price from buyers outbidding each other to purchase their home.
The competition was so fierce that some buyers waived inspection to entice sellers — which proved to be a costly mistake for some, as they ended up purchasing overpriced properties that required expensive repairs.
At the start of 2023, the Pittsburgh housing market saw considerable price declines from the record highs in mid-2022, but recent market conditions have driven home prices back up.
Redfin reports that in July 2022, the median sale price for a house in Pittsburgh was $250,000. This fell to $211,250 in January 2023 and was at $260,000 by the end of July 2023. The scarcity of homes for sale has contributed to the upward trajectory of Pittsburgh home prices over the last few months because bidding wars have once again become prevalent, with many homebuyers frequently spending more than the asking amount to get a residence in their desired Pittsburgh neighborhood.
With mortgage interest rates expected to remain high in Q4 2023, inventory may still be an issue for the rest of the year, which is likely to keep Pittsburgh home prices up if prospective buyers continue to fight for the few available properties.
Homes Are Still Selling Fast in Pittsburgh
Despite subdued demand and high interest rates, the average time to sell a Pittsburgh home remains largely unchanged. According to Realtor.com, homes in Pittsburgh stayed on the market for 35 days on average in March 2023, compared to 39 days in July 2023 and 40 days in August 2022.
But it doesn't necessarily require that much time for all homes to sell. Properties in highly sought-after neighborhoods — including Regent Square, Squirrel Hill North or Point Breeze — are often sold more quickly.
Irrespective of location, April to June are widely regarded as the best times for listing a Pittsburgh house. Since many families prefer to move before the start of a new school year, these months typically feature a thriving real estate market packed with motivated buyers.
While the time on the market has remained stable, the number of sales per month has decreased. In July, for example, 429 homes were sold, a 6.3% reduction from 458 during the same time last year.
With 260 homes sold in January 2023, it was the slowest month for sales; nonetheless, low sales are anticipated in Pittsburgh during the winter.
What Do Local Housing Market Trends Mean for Buyers & Sellers?
High interest rates dramatically increase monthly mortgage payments for potential home buyers and diminish their purchasing power.
For example, if you were approved for a $517,500 home while the interest rate on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage was at 3.5% and it increased to 5.81%, you would only be able to afford a $399,750 house at that point, an almost $120,000 difference in spending power.
In terms of monthly payments, If you took out a 30-year fixed mortgage in January 2022 at a rate of 3.22% for a $400,000 Pittsburgh property, your monthly mortgage payment would be $1,716. With the average interest rate for the 30-year fixed mortgage at 7.53% in September 2023, your monthly mortgage payments would go up to $2,573, according to the Bankrate mortgage calculator.
Due to the rising costs, 66% of potential buyers have postponed making a house purchase, and sellers have held off on listing their properties to wait for the rates to come down before re-entering the real estate market.
Most prospective homebuyers would consider moving forward with their plans to buy a home if the 30-year fixed mortgage rate drops to 5.5% or lower. The rate today is above 7%.
Because there are more purchasers than residences for sale, there is a strong likelihood that well-kept and reasonably priced homes will continue to be snapped up quickly for the rest of 2023, which is good news for sellers.
If you're a buyer, you must be fast when you find a home that fits your needs and budget. The house probably has interest from other buyers, so if you wait too long to submit an offer, it might sell.