What distinguishes Mt. Lebanon from other suburbs? What sort of person or family is the right fit for our historic early automobile suburb with its sidewalks, tree-lined streets, eclectic housing stock, iconic school district and excellent public services? What are our community’s strengths? Its challenges?
In summary, what is the best way to “sell” Mt. Lebanon?
This was the question seven members of the municipal and school district staff addressed at an informational coffee for area real estate professionals. About 40 agents representing five firms that list and sell houses in Mt. Lebanon attended: Howard Hanna, Coldwell Banker, Berkshire Hathaway, ReMax and Northwood.
Hosted by mtl, the official community magazine, the coffee was held in the commission chamber and featured short presentations by Interim Manager/Municipal Planner Keith McGill, Public Information Officer Susan Morgans, mtl Social Media Editor Laura Lilley, Police Chief Aaron Lauth, Recreation Director David Donnellan, Tax Office Manager Mary Abbott, Chief Inspector Joseph Berkley and School District Communications Director Cissy Bowman.
The agents heard about planned multifamily and single family residential development, new commercial endeavors, updated recreation facilities, multimedia communication efforts, public safety statistics and programs, local taxes, fees and assessments, dye tests and building permits/variances, and the local elementary, middle and high school facilities and programs.
A survey of attendees showed satisfaction of 5 out of a possible 5 points with the morning’s program. In addition mtl gleaned some interesting information about what Realtors think “sells” our community or sometimes deters prospective buyers.
When it comes to assets, everyone who responded listed our schools as either their first or second choice, followed by Mt. Lebanon’s walkabililty and charm. Other things agents said attract buyers are the Washington Road business district, safety and the proximity/public transit to downtown Pittsburgh.
Several respondents saw taxes as the biggest challenge in selling Mt. Lebanon. A few others saw the combination of older, “non-flashy” houses on smaller lots as the biggest challenge. One wished for more condos and other “right-size” options for their clients.
Upper St. Clair edged out other suburbs as our biggest competitor, with Peters Township/Washington County on its heels and one mention each for Cranberry, Fox Chapel, Sewickley, Shadyside, South Fayette and “anything in the North Allegheny School District.”
Their responses confirmed for the most part what municipal officials already know. “We know Mt. Lebanon is a unique community that is not for everyone,” magazine editor Morgans told the group. “We want you to have the tools to match the right people or family to the right community. If it turns out to be Mt. Lebanon, that’s great. If it turns out to be another community, that’s OK, too. Most of the people who do move here love it and tend to stay.”