home sales bloom in Lebo

Punxsutawney Phil may not have been right about the weather this year, but we had an early spring in the real estate market in Mt. Lebanon and surrounding areas.

Local realtors are reporting that local houses are now selling briskly. In fact, they say that inventory is low. That is realtor-speak for “running low on houses to sell.”

Demand for housing never really goes away. During bad times, people still need new places to live. But they can usually postpone fulfillment, at least for a while. And of course, most who are not first time buyers (or apartment dwellers) must postpone jumping into the fray until they can sell what they have at a price they view as acceptable.

In fact, many houses are not being sold because mortgage balances exceed the fair market value. If you want to sell a property that is “under water,” you must either bring cash to closing or arrange a short sale with the lender. Some, through necessity, have done just that. But most have decided to wait.

During the last four years, the flood of foreclosure properties and short sale opportunities has brought prices down. Sales in Mt. Lebanon did much better than most of Allegheny County during the period since 2008, but in many locations around the county, there were very few sales until 2012, when the market started to recover.

In accord with the law of supply and demand, prices are rising. But it is unlike that we will see a sharp spike. Bank regulations have been tightened to prevent most of the lending practices that preceded the 2008 crash. Conservative lending limits will be strictly enforced and appraisals will continue to reflect the last four years, at least for a while.

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