After just a few years of holding a couple of rentals in Philly, Tracy called me up to say he and his wife, Roxanne, were moving west to Pittsburgh. He’d grown tired of being a landlord in Philadelphia, PA and was looking to get out just when Roxanne was offered a new job here in Steel City. He didn’t want to give up on being a real estate investor, however, and hoped that investing in Pittsburgh real estate, like I do, might be more his speed. Since I was able to turn my part-time passion for buying, renovating, and selling homes into a full-time gig here, I told him I thought that was a great idea—especially now. I was so excited for him, I proceeded to tell him why, where, and how to get started almost in one breath.
Why Investing in Pittsburgh Real Estate is a Good Idea
I’ve been investing in Pittsburgh properties for several years running and it’s not just because I was born and raised here. Median home list prices are trending upward 7.9% year-over-year, according to Realtor.com, currently hovering at about $180,000. That’s a fairly good jump up from $165,000 a year ago. And, it means that if you bought, rehabbed, and resold a handful of houses, like I did, you probably saw a bump in your bank account, too.
Even if you haven’t started investing here yet, there’s still plenty of time to get in on the action. Investor demand is lower here than in other cities, but development opportunities are high and expected to grow higher as the city makes infrastructure improvements. As new development breaks ground and roadways, sidewalks, and public spaces are improved, more home buying eyes will turn our way. That’s why Pittsburgh was cited as a city to watch in the latest Emerging Trends in Real Estate report by PricewaterhouseCoopers and the Urban Land Institute. But, with housing prices already going up and investor competition still currently down, I suggest you get ahead of the curve and start buying now.
So, where exactly in Pittsburgh should you buy residential investment property? There are a few neighborhoods that have attracted my attention for 2019 and, just as I told Tracy, there is good reason that they should also attract yours.
Given high marks for diversity, nightlife, and family-friendly amenities by the residents who live there, East Liberty is no stranger to Pittsburgh’s up-and-comers list. And, that’s what’s helped to keep it at the top of my list as a neighborhood worth investing in. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that when major retailers and food chains, like Whole Foods, moved in, the once crime-ridden community got a much-needed boost in its employment rate and desirability rating. Things got even better with the addition of a nearby Google campus and the announcement that Apple plans to expand its employment opportunities in the area.
These economic shifts have altered the way would-be homeowners look at East Liberty, opening up their options to include a happening community that’s still in transition—and, therefore, relatively affordable. Since the entry point for investing in Pittsburgh real estate is still relatively affordable, too, flipping houses in East Liberty is bound to meet the needs of both eager homebuyers and your wallet.
Once known as Pittsburgh’s Little Italy, Larimer fell victim to low employment rates and high crime in the decades following the 1960s. As neighborhood blight set in, many of its residents headed out—and, left their homes standing vacant behind. The tide started to shift in 2014, however, when the community was gifted $30 million from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The grant, awarded in response to local officials working to rebrand Larimer as a green, sustainable neighborhood, couldn’t have come at a better time.
With plans for energy independence, urban farming, and green jobs training already underway, the injection of federal funding was a big boost toward helping Larimer reach its goal. Soon after, developers of mixed-use properties took notice and joined the movement to help turn abandoned historic properties, like Larimer School, into mixed-income housing—a project slated to be finished by the end of 2020.
Home to mostly single-family residences and surrounded on all sides by neighborhoods as hip as East Liberty and as hot as Shadyside, Larimer is clearly poised for its own comeback. And, since neighborhood revitalization typically renews interest among homebuyers, getting in on the ground floor by investing in single-family houses this year is a great way to meet new demand and make good returns.
Recommended by the University of Pittsburgh as a cool area to live in, and commute to school and work from, Shadyside has been a hotspot for Millennials long before the rating website, Niche, said it was. With a variety of shops, restaurants, and bars to choose from—plus a high walkability ranking—it’s not hard to see why. Provided you keep the younger demographic in mind while performing renovations, you should be able to sell your investment properties quickly. After all, Millennials have been the fastest growing segment of homebuyers in the U.S. for several years and, according to data analyzed by the Home Buying Institute, they’re flocking to Pittsburgh.
Not everyone can afford to buy a house, however, nor does everyone want to—no matter their age. Given that there are as many or more renters in Shadyside as homeowners, buying properties to hold here could be a great way to create diversification in your real estate portfolio. And, if Pittsburgh home prices continue their upward climb as they’re expected to, you could potentially sell for even stronger returns later.
Truth be told, these aren’t the only neighborhoods where I’ll focus my attention this year. That’s because I go where the good leads take me. If I can find off-market real estate deals at below market prices in the smaller communities of Swisshelm Park and Regent Square, then I’ll be investing in Pittsburgh real estate there, too. Like I told Tracy, more than location, it’s the quality of your leads that should guide you. And, I know how to get some of the best leads on real estate deals anywhere in Pittsburgh.
Great Leads for Finding the Best Pittsburgh Deals
Tracy was excited to hear that my success as a real estate investor here in Pittsburgh could be duplicated, provided he had access to the kind of qualified leads on fixer-uppers that I have. Learning that it was easy to get those leads just by becoming an independently owned and operated HomeVestors® franchisee, like me, seemed to really make his day.
As a new investor, I started my career focusing almost exclusively on location. That meant I didn’t always get the best deals. Once I became a HomeVestors® franchisee, however,I gained access to the national “We Buy Ugly Houses®” marketing campaign and tools that drive distressed homeowners to call me. Everything changed—well, everything but my zip code. I still live and work from the same beautiful old house that I bought years ago in Highland Park, another one of my favorite Pittsburgh neighborhoods.
Turn your idea of investing in Pittsburgh into a solid plan by getting access to qualified leads. Call HomeVestors to see how you can become a part of the team today!
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