Yes, it’s possible to buy a home during the pandemic. Sure, you have to wear a mask while conducting business with a real estate agent and the seller — but you also need to act fast if there’s a property you like.
Pent-up demand and low inventory in the Pittsburgh area are producing multiple offers for sellers, says Tim Gyves, a realtor with RE/MAX Select Realty in the East End. Before looking, make a list of pros and cons, talk with someone about financing and reach out to an agent.
“Thirty days ago, or so, there was a house in Highland Park where my client’s was one of nine offers made in the first 48 hours. It was super competitive,” says Gyves. “There’s a demand both from the past couple of months when nobody could look and also just the time of year in Pittsburgh. … It’s busy, busier than I thought it would be.”
Howard Hanna Mortgage Services says June set records for financing new home purchases, and because of low interest rates, the market is hot across Pennsylvania.
“During quarantine, people were saying, ‘I don’t like this or that about my house; I don’t have a home office, etc.’ and looking online at new houses,” says F. Duffy Hanna, president of Howard Hanna Financial Services.
Mortgage rates, fees and services vary by region, so research and a professional can help you make informed decisions. If your budget is $400,000, here are some homes available:
Neighborhood: 1461 Benton Ave., Brighton Heights
Asking price: $395,000
Description: Everything is new from a remodel of this 4-bedroom, 3.5-bath brick home built in 1934 — the HVAC, water heater, plumbing, electric, windows, roof and driveway. Hardwood floors enhance its open floor plan, and the kitchen has a pantry and coffee/wine bar. Other features include a second-floor laundry room, finished basement, 4-car garage, and rear deck and screened porch. The attic could be another bedroom, with two closets.
Neighborhood: 1540 Rhine St., Spring Hill
Asking price: $418,000
Description: Here’s a rare find: a remodeled, owner-occupied property with two units. Built in 1930, this brick home has high ceilings, restored woodwork and original fireplaces, but also updated kitchens and baths and air conditioning. The first floor, 1-bedroom, 1-bath unit has basement access and a porch. The second and third floors are a 2-bedroom, 2-bath apartment with a porch. The third-floor master suite has a city view.
Neighborhood: 108 Kenova St., Mt. Washington
Asking price: $389,000
Description: You’d never guess that this 3-bedroom, 2.5-bath home was built in 1915 — its remodel has modernized the property, starting with the open concept on the main level. Quality details include hardwood floors, butcher block steps with wrought iron railings, and quartz countertops, a copper range hood and a large center island in the eat-in kitchen. Lots of windows bring in natural light. The deck has a privacy wall.
Neighborhood: 2615 Stella St., South Side
Asking price: $399,900
Description: Want new construction? This 3-bedroom, 2.5-bath home in the South Side Slopes was built in 2015 and offers spectacular city views from the walls of windows on its three floors. It has an integrated two-car garage, and modern finishes throughout, including wood, granite and stainless steel. A large deck provides outdoor entertainment space. The location is close to both E. Carson Street businesses and SouthSide Works.
Neighborhood: 624 Worth St., Squirrel Hill
Asking price: $399,900
Description: Built in 1900, this brick home is within walking distance of the business district, with parks and a bus stop nearby. It has 4 bedrooms, 2 baths, a living room with a decorative fireplace, a dining room and a sunroom. The rooms are large with hardwood floors. The basement powder room is plumbed but not connected. Windows are newer and the HVAC is eight years old. A large deck overlooks a fenced backyard.
Neighborhood: 5405 Black St., East Liberty
Asking price: $419,800
Description: A quintessential Pittsburgh home, circa 1900, with five bedrooms, four baths and a large front porch. Meticulously restored, the house has new plumbing, electrical systems, furnaces and central air. The main level has an open floor plan and staircase with original woodwork. The kitchen and bathrooms are updated, and all the rooms have strong natural light. This home is in a central location, close to business districts, parks and schools.
Neighborhood: 511 Burkes Dr., Robinson
Asking price: $419,900
Style: Two-story colonial
Description: Built in 1993, this 4-bedroom, 3.5-bath home has a three-car garage, partially covered deck and large backyard. The layout has good a flow between the living room, dining room and gourmet kitchen, and the family room has a double-sided gas fireplace. The master suite has a whirlpool tub and opens to a private deck. The finished basement, with a wine cellar, provides access to a patio. The home has a newer roof, furnace and water heater.
Neighborhood: 188 Cimarron Dr., Moon/Crescent Township
Asking price: $399,900
Description: This 4-bedroom, 2.5-bath home was built in 2014 on a cul-de-sac. It’s made for families, and for working from home with a great room, den and home office. The kitchen has a large island, breakfast room and a mudroom off the two-car garage. The Trex deck spreads above a patio and overlooks a large, fenced yard. There’s a second-floor laundry room and a storage room that could be a home gym or playroom.
Neighborhood: 300 Fourth Ave., Unit 1103
Asking price: $390,000
Description: The Carlyle condos in Downtown Pittsburgh’s Fourth Avenue Historic District were built in 2015 in the former Union Bank Building. This 11th-floor unit has a kitchen with high-end appliances, including a stackable washer and dryer, and a long living room with a unique city view. The two bedrooms have large closets; the master bath has a soaking tub and shower. The building has a secure entry, fitness area, theater and a community room with a pool table.
Neighborhood: 2434 Smallman St., Unit 420
Asking price: $380,000
Description: Here’s an opportunity to buy into the Strip District: A 1-bedroom, 1-bath condo in the Otto Milk Building kept by its original owner. The apartment faces Penn Avenue and has a private balcony and covered parking spot. Inside you’ll find hardwood floors, high ceilings with fans and large closets. There’s private storage in the basement. The building has two elevators, a fitness center, secure entry and a common outdoor patio.