Lower taxes. More house for the money. Lots of land and private, quiet locales. These are some of the reasons people choose to move to small towns or rural areas, says realtor Kevin Schwarz, an agent with Keller Williams. And sometimes, a house is so cool that it warrants a look.
“If I want to live in the city, a lot of people move to Downtown because they want to have access to the restaurants or to walk for coffee,” says Schwarz. “Each of these [smaller] communities offers something different. I fly fish, for example, and I’ve made friends with locals who live in Jacobs Creek and surrounding areas. It’s not near anything, but they’re happy with it. It’s a nice cost of living and that’s what works for them.”
With 26 counties west of the Appalachian divide, Western Pennsylvania offers many places to live for residents who don’t want city life. And in each of the small towns, boroughs or townships, you’ll find cool homes — some of them reasonably priced.
When interest rates shot up — from about 3% to roughly 6% now — “that’s naturally going to cause a lot of people to get priced out of the market,” Schwarz says. “That lowers demand, which naturally increases housing stock. … It’s crazy to see how far out people are willing to sprawl.”
Here’s a look at 10 homes recently on the market, where several “cool factors” made us — and potential buyers — take a second look:
Where: 900 Stanton St., Monongahela
Listing price: $300,000
Cool factors: Conservatory, pool with cabana, woodwork
Details: This historic 4-bedroom, 2-bath home in Washington County sits on a double lot on Stanton Street in Monongahela — the state’s second smallest city with around 4,100 people. Built in 1863, the house has a conservatory, in-ground heated pool, cabana, large fenced yard and a 3-car garage. Two gas fireplaces, hardwood and tile floors, and a balcony add to the charm. Brokered by Cass Zielinski of Piatt Sotheby’s, the house recently went to contingency sale status.
Where: 518 Sugar Camp Road, Venetia
Listing price: $535,000
Cool factors: Location, location, location!
Details: Built in 1960, this 4-bedroom, 2.5-bath brick home is utilitarian in a beautiful setting: a wooded area of Peters Township. It has had many updates, including windows, a furnace, a roof and exterior paint. The kitchen is new with quartz counters and a gas cooktop; one bath has a soaking tub. The four-season porch, upstairs deck, in-ground pool and 2.6-acre lot provide outdoor living space. This is “country” but close to commerce. The home is listed by Bobbi Bonnett with Howard Hanna.
Where: 281 Buffalo St., Beaver
Listing price: $329,900
Cool factors: Front porch, backyard oasis
Details: This 3-bedroom, 1.5-bath home in Beaver has beautiful elements, such as a classic vestibule, an enclosed front porch, oak fireplace surround, a mud room — and what a backyard! Pavers, stone pathways and mature plantings make this a place for relaxing or entertaining. The detached garage can house three vehicles. A partially-finished lower level has the potential for an office or other uses. John Posteraro with Howard Hanna listed this one.
Where: 700 Lakeside Dr., Canonsburg
Listing price: $495,000
Cool factors: A lake where bald eagles live
Details: A serious cook might buy this home for the walk-in pantry alone. But this private, 3-bedroom, 2.5-bath lakeside home, situated where Canonsburg meets McMurray, offers much more. The main bedroom has a deluxe bathroom and balcony overlooking the idyllic backyard with a patio. Woodwork warms the family room with a gas fireplace and huge windows. A second suite with private entry could be for guests or a live-in relative. It’s brokered by Jim Popeck of Howard Hanna.
Where: 7 Ross Way, Washington
Listing price: $539,900
Cool factors: Open concept, central fireplace, spa-like feel
Details: A unique, double front door invites you to look inside this one-story home built in 2020 on 4.56 acres in East Washington near a park. A central fireplace and polished hickory floors tie together the living, dining and kitchen areas, which flow from one to another. The main bedroom suite has a spa-like bathroom with a jet tub and gas fireplace. Each of the other two bedrooms has its own bath. The house, surrounded by trees, is listed by John Fincham of Keller Williams.
Listing price: $350,000
Cool factors: Stained glass, sunroom, designer kitchen
Details: From the outside, the former Zollarsville Methodist Church in Marianna, built in 1862, still looks like a church, but inside, it’s a modern, 4-bedroom, 2-bath home. Stained-glass windows brighten many of the rooms, and the hardwood flooring and sunroom doors are original to the building. Another touch of whimsy: hand-carved altar railings frame the staircase. This home, listed by Lisa Conklin of Howard Hanna, sits on an acre lot. The two-car garage has a finished loft.
Listing price: $385,000
Cool factors: Aspinwall’s Sauer Buildings Historic District
Details: Built in 1920, this Frederick Sauer stone home is called The Heidelberg. The hillside gives each apartment in this three-story building ground-level access. Each apartment has its own floor plan; two of three units are occupied, so the buyer who put this on contingency status could live in the third. The stonework and unique architectural details continue inside. Patti McCaffrey, a RE/MAX agent, offered this for sale.
Where: 1512 Beaver Road, Sewickley
Listing price: $359,000
Cool factors: Wrap-around porch, bay window, red roof
Details: Walk to village shops and restaurants from this 2-bedroom cottage in Sewickley. The wrap-around porch, fenced yard and front door flanked by symmetrical windows open to a fresh living area and dining room with a bay window seat. The kitchen has an eat-in area with a wall of windows. The roof is new, and the exterior and some of the interior were recently painted. A two-car garage comes with this property listed by Jill Stehnach of RE/MAX.
Listing price: $400,000
Cool factors: Porches, magnificent woodwork, owner’s suite
Details: Talk about a front porch! Built in 1900, this Tudor home has exquisite woodwork, starting with the entryway and carrying throughout the property. Leaded glass windows and a flat, fenced backyard with views of the Ohio River add to the home’s appeal. The kitchen is new, with a door leading to an enclosed porch. This house has 5 bedrooms and 2.5 baths — including a third-floor en suite. There’s a carport and parking pad, and a partially finished basement. The listing agent is Joe Paolazzi with Redfin.
Listing price: $123,900
Cool factors: Sweeping front porch, hammered tin kitchen backsplash
Details: Listing agent Michael Kusenko of Meridian Real Estate Group calls this foreclosed home in historic Punxsutawney “stately” — and it fits, from the moment you step inside the spacious entryway to see the staircase, built-in living room curio cabinets and nicely maintained woodwork throughout. The rooms are large, including the main bedroom with its walk-in closet. A game room on the lower level adds living space, and the backyard is fenced. There’s a one-car detached garage.