For Gary Swank, the remarkable thing about Pittsburgh’s real estate market is that people are buying homes in the middle of winter.
“We’re very busy,” says Swank, a RE/MAX real estate agent. “The (mild) weather helps—people get serious about looking. Everything is selling, from small homes up to the very largest, depending what part of the city you’re in. The interest rates are staying relatively low, around 4 percent, so that’s positive for buyers and still competitive even for an investor.”
Home buyers include Millennials and Gen Xers, agents say. Many know what they’re looking for, in part because they have perused internet listings to narrow a search that years ago would have involved driving around.
“Most people want an open floor plan and contemporary finishes, the modern kitchens, modern baths,” says Swank. “Everybody wants more square footage than they can afford.”
The market has a lot to offer buyers who can spend $300,000, from condos in the East End to single-family homes in the suburbs. With a 20 percent down payment, you’d pay around $1,200 monthly—plus taxes and insurance—on a 30-year mortgage, according to Zillow’s calculator.
Here’s a sampling of listings; scroll to the end to see interior photos.
Neighborhood: 5744 Kentucky Ave #3, Shadyside
Asking price: $309,900
Description: An antiques dealer is selling this 1920s-era condominium in an Art Deco building on a tree-lined street. At 1,900 square feet, it’s a large unit, with 10-foot ceilings, original woodwork, hardwood floors and decorative fireplaces.
“It has a lot of character,” says Swank, the listing agent. “It was designed to have been maybe a larger unit, with a master and probably a maid’s bedroom in the back with a small bathroom. My first showing was to a couple from England, who thought it looked like something they’d find in the U.K.”
It’s not contemporary but this unit has an easy flow for entertaining, with a butler’s pantry, sunroom and plenty of storage. Swank emphasizes its location near Walnut Street shopping and Oakland’s universities, hospitals and museums.
Neighborhood: 3113 Brereton St., Polish Hill
Asking price: $309,000
Style: Single-family home
Description: This house with a city view has four bedrooms, two full baths (one with a jacuzzi tub) and a basement. It’s located not far from West Penn Park, and a picture window provides a view of one of Pittsburgh’s oldest and largest churches, the historic Immaculate Heart of Mary. Built in 1900, the home has been completely remodeled to accentuate an open floor plan and large eat-in kitchen with a breakfast counter and wet bar. Details include granite countertops, soft-close cabinetry, stainless steel appliances, and a farmhouse sink. The owner replaced the air conditioner, hot water tank, siding, flooring, furnace, windows and doors. In the rear of the home are a deck and concrete courtyard. The property has a deep double lot with off-street parking for four cars.
Neighborhood: 65 Hawthorne Ave., Crafton
Asking price: $299,900
Description: This 1.5-story brick home with a one-car garage in the Carlynton School District was built in 1921 and has porches in the front and rear, an open floor plan and living room with a fireplace. Its kitchen with granite countertops, an island and a pantry flows into a large dining room. The house has a first-floor master bedroom and two bedrooms upstairs, plus two full and one partial bathrooms. The full basement includes an area that could be finished for a game room.
“Stunning complete redo of a beautiful brick Craftsman bungalow on one of the best streets with a great lot in Crafton,” writes listing agent Lu Ryan with Howard Hanna. “The sweeping roofline, with architectural details like the eyebrow window, and expansive open floor plan make this home a rare find.”
The house was stripped to its studs and rebuilt with new walls, electrical, plumbing, HVAC, and floors, Ryan says. “Feels like a patio home inside with the first-floor master a few steps from the main floor.”
Neighborhood: 7210 Front River Rd., Neville Island
Asking price: $314,900
Description: There’s an offer pending on this waterfront home with four bedrooms, two full bathrooms and a new half-bath on the main level. Built in 1983, the house offers views of the Ohio River from a lower-level patio or a covered deck off the main level. In addition to the living-dining room combination on the main level, the lower level has a large family room. The kitchen has stainless steel appliances and granite countertops. The master bedroom has a walk-in closet and en suite bathroom. A driveway of brick pavers leads to a two-car integral garage.
RE/MAX agent Gina Giampietro marketed this house with a fenced yard and steps to private river access as a place to “watch the river, seasons, and have the most fabulous parties on your own private island.”
Neighborhood: 1107 Bradish St., South Side
Asking price: $299,900
Style: Single-family home
Description: What a difference from 15 years ago, when this two-bedroom, three-bath home sold for $47,000. This house, built in 1902, was renovated by a couple that ran a catering business there, says Rich Sunseri, the listing agent. The first floor has an oversized, one-car garage with storage and a half-bathroom. A rear garage door leads to an outdoor patio and big backyard. The second floor is the main living area where exposed brick, granite and hardwood spotlight the chef’s kitchen, eating and lounging areas, and second half-bath. A deck offers city views. The third-floor master bedroom has double closets, a full bath with skylights and a washer/dryer set. A second bedroom was carved out of the master that originally was a loft, Sunseri says.
“It’s just such a unique property, with the brick, the hardwood, the granite countertops,” Sunseri says. “And having off-street parking in the South Side is major. Another cool thing they did was to have two garage doors, one in the front of the house and one in the back. In spring, with the green and flowers, or when there’s fall foliage, you could have parties in the back and open both garage doors for a large outdoor living space.”
Neighborhood: 243 Augusta St., Duquesne Heights
Asking price: $299,900
Style: Colonial townhome
Description: Built in 2001, this Mt. Washington home with an attached garage is situated one block from Grandview Avenue and its amazing views of Pittsburgh. The home has three bedrooms; the master suite has vaulted ceilings, a fan and easy access to the master bath with a double vanity, jacuzzi tub and shower. There is a second full bathroom and one partial bathroom. Listing agent Phil Lewerth with Coldwell Banker describes the kitchen as “bright with sunlight and very functional.” The living room has a gas fireplace and recessed lighting. A deck off the dining area leads to a backyard.
“There is also a large extra room off the garage, which can be finished into a playroom, office, computer room,” Lewerth says in the listing.
Neighborhood: 1305 Liverpool St., Manchester
Asking price: $329,900
Description: A buyer has made an offer—with contingencies—on this four-bedroom, two-and-a-half-bath home originally listed at $319,900 in December. Built in 1906, this home with modern finishes has a detached two-car garage, central air conditioning, security system and eight gas fireplaces. With 10 rooms, it has many amenities—a kitchen with an island, stainless steel appliances and pantry, a large bathroom, many interior architectural details and a fenced backyard. Just off the spacious living room is a unique arched cubby under the staircase.
Listing agent Gina Giampietro gives it a romantic description: “You are generously welcomed by refined beauty, starting with an entry that features high ceilings and hardwood floors throughout this unique home.”
The oversized master bedroom has closet space, an en suite with a soaking tub, walk-in shower and laundry. Glass doors lead to a den or private sitting area.
Asking price: $315,000
Description: “Sophisticated and chic,” is how Coldwell Banker agent Laura Palmer describes this end-unit condominium in the Avonworth School District. With an open floor plan, this three-bedroom, two-and-a-half-bath home has many architectural details—built-in cabinets in the dining room, a large pantry, hardwood flooring, and a master suite with tray ceiling, large closet and soaking tub in the bathroom. The laundry is located on the second floor.
Among the selling points Palmer lists: “Lots of storage and plumbed for future bath. Custom deck with steps to yard.” The condo community provides a pool, clubhouse and playground.