Instead of waiting for the perfect house to come along — and the competing offers that come with it — first-time homebuyers in the Pittsburgh area are creating the homes they want through purchase and renovation loans.

Lawrenceville kitchen overhaul

Lawrenceville kitchen overhaul. Photo courtesy of Caryn Carson.

Like much of the nation, Pittsburgh has three challenges that are generating the perfect storm in real estate: low inventory, rising interest rates and extremely high demand. These are pushing prices higher and making the possibility of buying in 2022 (or any time soon) feel less and less likely to first-time homebuyers.

“People looking at the market today get intimidated. We’re seeing buyers approved for large home loans, but unable to find a place in their price range within their desired neighborhood. When they do find a house, there is typically a bidding war with prices soaring over asking price,” says Jeff Philibin, Pittsburgh branch manager, NMLS #408773, PrimeLending, a PlainsCapital Company.

“Most folks don’t even realize that you can find a home that needs just a bit of updating and use a purchase and renovation loan to make the house of your dreams.”

Pittsburgh is a special place that both breeds and attracts a certain type of character, one who just figures things out and forges on through challenging times. The real estate market right now is proving to be no exception to this show of grit. From a simple kitchen or bath renovation to a large-scale overhaul, willing renovators are choosing an alternative to the turnkey house. Places like Pittsburgh, with older houses, provide plenty of reno opportunities.

Sarah and Eric were recently looking to relocate to Pittsburgh from Texas and faced frustration finding the right house with historic charm. Their real estate agent suggested a renovation to broaden their choices. “We looked all over the place in different neighborhoods, but a renovation loan was the missing key and we just didn’t know it.”

The Pittsburgh team has years of experience in renovation and can help guide through all the twists and turns of the process. If renovation isn’t needed, they can also help with traditional home loans while offering a personal, local touch.

Lawrenceville living room upgrade

Lawrenceville living room upgrade. Photo courtesy of Caryn Carson.

Sarah and Eric offer some feedback, “We felt like we were in really good hands the entire time. We thought things would be black and white and transactional with our mortgage, we never expected the layer of kindness and warmth we got from the team.”

The couple ended up with a beautiful historic home in Bellevue that others had passed on because it needed a major update to the electrical system. They were able to hire a licensed electrician to make the improvements as part of their mortgage loan.

“This home has so much original character and just felt right. It has been really awesome, and we can’t believe this was even possible. Now that we’re in the house and making it ours we’re realizing that without this option we would have never found our house. The homes that were already updated were out of our budget,” they shared.

The electrician suggested overhead lighting options, added more outlets to make the house more functional, and improved how Sarah and Eric live in the space. “The house feels more solid now, everything just makes more sense for our modern brains.”

Now they have peace of mind that comes with the safety of new wiring and are able to put their resources and energy toward other upgrades. “Because the electric is done right off the bat, everything else that we have to do feels so much more manageable and we’re really energized,” Sarah shares.

Renovation opens a lot of doors for everyday people to live in the places they want and for families to stay in neighborhoods they love. With the costs of the house and reno rolled into one monthly payment, at a rate often lower than a personal loan, renovation loans offer a creative way to enter homeownership or step up to the next level.

Penn Hills bathroom update

Penn Hills bathroom update. Photo courtesy of Lori Wright.

Doing a purchase and renovation loan adds a few steps to the journey, but in the end buyers end up with a home they are excited about. Instead of settling for a dated kitchen or bath, they are getting the home they always hoped for, from the floors, lights, and paint – all the way to the countertops.

“Waiting until the market improves, inventory returns and rates to go back down just isn’t realistic. If you can’t find what you’re looking for — why not create it,” shares Jeff. “Renovating is an awesome way to get in the game in a creative way.”