Real Estate Information Archive


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Absorption Rate - What Does It Mean?

by Don Roth

Many times when someone is looking to either buy or sell a home they will ask how long has that home been on the market and I will give them the answer. But more important, in my opinion, is what the activity like in an area or a price range. This chart gives an overview of what is happening in both Dauphin and Cumberland counties in the greater Harrisburg PA real estate market.

absorption rate

The absorption rate is calculated by dividing the number of homes sold in a specific period into the number of homes for sale. The term 'balanced market' has been determined to mean that you have a housing supply of six months in a price range. And if there is less than a six month supply it becomes a 'sellers’ market' and over six months is a 'buyers’ market.'

This is a good rule of thumb to look into whether you a buyers or seller but remember other items such as taxes and insurance can impact the value of a home and what a buyer is willing to pay for a home. The absorption rate can influence a buying decision so do not hesitate to ask because although it is a snapshot it can in some instances be an indication of things to come in the future.

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When you are buying or selling property in today's Harrisburg PA real estate market, it's important to have confidence in your real estate professional. Don’s commitment as your Harrisburg PA REALTOR® is to provide you with the specialized real estate service you deserve.

When you are an informed buyer or seller, you'll make the best decisions for the most important purchase or sale in your lifetime. That's why Don’s goal is to keep you informed on trends in Harrisburg PA real estate. With property values continuing to rise, real estate is a sound investment for now and for the future.

As a local area expert with knowledge of Harrisburg PA area communities, Don’s objective is to work diligently to assist you in meeting your real estate goals.

If you are considering buying or selling a home or would just like to have additional information about real estate in your area, please don't hesitate to call me at (717) 657-8700, complete my online form, or e-mail me at


Central Pennsylvania Real Estate Report

by Don Roth

Central Pennsylvania Real Estate Report


Average Sales Price
West Shore
School District
October 2009
October 2010
Days on Market
Camp Hill
Cumberland Valley
West Shore
East Pennsboro
East Shore
Central Dauphin
Derry Township
$ 83,577
$ 65,564
Lower Dauphin
Steel High
$ 77,103
$ 74,450


Susquehanna Township


Average Sales Price
West Shore
School District
November 2009
November 2010
Days on Market
Camp Hill
Cumberland Valley
West Shore
East Pennsboro
East Shore
Central Dauphin
Derry Township
$ 81,986
$ 59,497
Lower Dauphin
Steel High
$ 108,967
$ 64,738


Susquehanna Township


Average Sales Price
West Shore
School District
December 2009
December 2010
Days on Market
Camp Hill
Cumberland Valley
West Shore
East Pennsboro
East Shore
Central Dauphin
Derry Township
$ 69,958
$ 62,138
Lower Dauphin
Steel High
$ 70,667
$ 48,000


Susquehanna Township

If there is one subject that is constantly discussed, it is the state of the real estate market in the Greater Harrisburg area. I am always asked are homes selling and what sales range is the strongest. The short answer is that homes continue to sell in our market, but they are taking a little longer to sell than what we have experienced is the past few years and that trend probably will continue into the first half of 2011. Homes priced in the low to mid $100,000s are selling the best, if you will but we must remember there are traditionally more homes in this range than any other price range. But homes in all price ranges continue to sell in our market. We must remember that some of the unfortunate news that we hear about in some areas of the country are not being experienced by this market to the degree that other areas have experienced. Yes there has been a slowdown in sales and increases in foreclosures and short sales in this market and that trend will again continue in the near future.

Is there good news in the Harrisburg real estate market? Absolutely, mortgage rates, although they have increased recently, are still below 5% and most likely will increase slightly in the months ahead. Additionally, the average home sales price has held up remarkably well and in my opinion that will continue. And lastly if you are looking to purchase a home there is a great selection of homes to choose from in all price ranges. We will most likely never see the frenzy that we saw a few years back, but I have been in this business for over 19 years and we will see the normalcy of the early 2000s and we will experience excellent home sales numbers with appreciating, not depreciation average home sale prices. No the glass is not half full yet but we are getting closer. May you have a Happy and Prosperous 2011.

If you have any real estate questions please contact me at and if you would like to see the list of available homes for sale visit my web site and click on the search listings tab and search away.

With the beginning of the New Year, many potential home buyers should make a resolution to purchase a home and have the ability to take advantage of the Home Buyer Tax Credit. Extended by Congress in 2009, this credit is available to buyers who sign a purchase contract before April 30, 2010 and settle on the home prior to June 30, 2010.

There are two eligibility categories designated by the Tax Credit Law:

  1. First Time Home Buyers. Defined as a buyer that has not owned a home for the past three years and the credit is up to $8000 or 10% of the purchase price of the home. The income restrictions are $125,000 for a single buyer and $225,000 for a couple purchasing the home. One of the more attractive conditions of the law is that the credit is truly a credit with no repayment provisions as long as you own the home for three years. If you sell prior to the anniversary, the total credit amount must be repaid.
  2. Current Home Owners who may want to purchase a home. The credit is $6500, and the home being purchased must be the buyers’ permanent residence. If a buyer wants to continue to own the home they are currently residing in, that is allowed, but again the home being purchased must be the new residence and be occupied by the buyer. One other condition in this category is that the buyer must have lived in their previous residence for five consecutive years of the last eight years. The other conditions that pertain to the First Time Home Buyers are similar.

Why is this credit so important? One of the reasons Congress extended the credit is to stimulate the housing market in the beginning of 2010. Also, with prices of homes in many areas of the country at or below previous levels it is anticipated that buyers can purchase a home at an attractive price and possibly give current homeowners the opportunity to do the same. And with mortgage interest rates still at an attractive level, possibly provide more purchasing power to a buyer.

This bill passed by Congress is the third version of the Home Buyer Tax Credit and from everything that I have seen or read Congress is not likely at this time to provide any further extensions in the future. Naturally, with any specific tax questions, it is highly recommended that you talk to a tax professional. And if you have any questions concerning available real estate for sale in the Greater Harrisburg area, please contact me at

August 2009 Central Pennsylvania Real Estate Sales Report

by Don Roth


The real estate activity for August does provide some interesting insight to what is occurring. Namely that the average sales price ($188,352) declined by approximately 13% from August 2008; and at first, that appears to indicate we have not reached the bottom. That may be true, but it is my opinion that it has to do more with the first time home buyers tax credit and buyers taking advantage of the credit, which in many transactions impacts the lower priced homes rather than the market falling off the cliff. In many instances, that is good news because the underpinnings of the market needs for the lower priced homes selling before the higher ones occur. So I think the basing process that I have mentioned in previous months is continuing and we will see a stabilized market by the end of this year..

Again with respect to an extension of the tax credit into 2010, it is still a guessing game whether it will remain in tact, be modified or the dollar amount increased. As we all know, there is a great deal of talk in Washington and little action. I hope that changes. If you are still considering using the tax credit, please remember that the sale has to be finalized by November 30, 2009. So, it would be my recommendation that every buyer have a home under contract no later than September 30, 2009 due to changes in some of the financing packages available.

Average Sales Price August 2009
West Shore
Days on Market
Camp Hill
New Cumberland
East Pennsboro
Hampden Township
Silver Spring Township
Upper Allen Township
Lower Allen Township
Fairview Township
East Shore
Lower Paxton Township
Derry Township
Swatara Township
South Hanover Township
West Hanover Township


As you can see, there are some substantial variance between 2008 and 2009. My research shows that in a few communities there were some higher priced homes settle that are out of the norm and misrepresented a more stable environment that normally occurs. But a very positive indication is that in approximately 75% of the selected communities have seen a decrease in the days on market when compared to July 2009. And I know of multiple offers on selected homes reappearing and that in, my estimation, is a very good sign. Again, as before, if there are any real estate related questions, please contact me at your convenience at 717-579-2879 or email at Also, please check out my web site for probably the most current information on homes that are currently for sale in the area by clicking on “Search Listings”.

July 2009 Central Pennsylvania Real Estate Sales Report

by Don Roth


The real estate sales activity for the Greater Harrisburg area containing the counties of Cumberland, Dauphin and Perry and segments of York, Lancaster and Lebanon Counties continued to stabilize and appears to be improving for the comparative periods of July 2008 versus July 2009. And although the average sales price for homes in the area declined by approximately 5% for the year over year comparison, there was a 3% increase in the average sales price in July 2009 when compared to June 2009 to an average of $198,409. As we all know, this is the primary selling and buying season for real estate and this has not deviated from previous years. That traditional high activity has been, in my opinion, fueled by buyers finding attractively priced homes, very competitive mortgage rates and the $8000 tax credit being offered by the Federal Government. Also contributing was a substantial increase in buyers using FHA and VA financing options (38% of all transactions in July 2009).

With respect to any extension of the first time homebuyer tax credit into 2010, the simple answer at this time is that there is no answer. There has been talk in Washington about extending or even expanding the credit to all buyers, not just first time buyers, but with all that is on the plate legislatively, including the budget and health care debates, I do not think anyone is going to guarantee the extension at this time.

Below are the average sales prices and days on market (DOM) for select municipalities on the East and West Shores in the Harrisburg area.

Average Sales Price July 2009
West Shore
Days on Market
Camp Hill
New Cumberland
East Pennsboro
Hampden Township
Silver Spring Township
Upper Allen Township
Lower Allen Township
Fairview Township
East Shore
Lower Paxton Township
Derry Township
Swatara Township
South Hanover Township
West Hanover Township


You can see that there are wide variances in average sales price and days on market from year to year. There are many explanations for these variances, but when reviewing previous comparative periods, I saw wide swings over a period of time that did not totally impact the overall trends. And, as I have been saying for a few months, that although the sales numbers and average sales price are down year over year, we are seeing a basing process that will lead to higher prices down the road. I cannot tell you when, but we can only be sure after we have hit the bottom and the same can be said of the lower mortgage interest rates. If you have any questions or need any additional information, please contact me at your convenience. And if you are considering a purchase of a home and want to inquire about prices and locations, please go to my web site and click on the search listings button and get current listing information.

Central Pennsylvania Real Estate Sales Report May 2009

by Don Roth

The real estate market in our area is beginning to experience some improvement when compared to the previous four months of 2009. The average sales price increased by 3% in May compared to April 2009. The comparison of the number of sold homes decreased slightly when compared to May 2008, but the month to month increase in the sales price is a very good indicator going forward and although the days on market had a slight increase from April, the trend appears to be moderating.

As in previous months, the lower priced homes are selling at a quicker pace than the homes in the higher ranges which right now is over $350,000, but some increased activity is occurring. Part of the increase, I’m sure, has been the $8000 federal tax credit that is for first time homebuyers and which now has been modified by HUD to allow buyers to monetize part of this credit and allow the credit to be used to pay for closing costs for the purchase of a home. Combine the credit with still extremely low mortgage interest rates and we can see why there has been sustained activity in what we would consider the first time homebuyer market. And I would anticipate this positive trend to continue in the coming months. Another positive sign is the number of pending but not settled transactions is up about 45% since the end of 2008, giving a good base for future sales to occur in the near future.

Average Sales Price May 2009
West Shore
Days on Market
Camp Hill
New Cumberland
East Pennsboro
Hampden Township
Silver Spring Township
Upper Allen Township
Lower Allen Township
Fairview Township
East Shore
Lower Paxton Township
Derry Township
Swatara Township
East Hanover Township
South Hanover Township
West Hanover Township


Again as last month, the percentage of homes financed by FHA and VA has increased from last year. And as I mentioned in April this trend will continue for a while. For those sellers that have not been involved in this financing, the guidelines are now very similar to conventional financing and as you can see by the percentages, this type of financing has become the norm in today’s environment. And if you have questions about the value of your home or activities in your community, please contact me at your convenience. Just remember all real estate is local and although there has been a correction, we are still in good shape when compared to other communities across the country.

Central Pennsylvania Housing Statistics, January 2009

by Don Roth

The housing statistics for the suburban Harrisburg, Pennsylvania are in and the results show that there is still some decline in real estate sales in the area. The number of homes sold in 2009 declined by 20% compared to the same period in 2008, and the area saw a decrease in the average sales price of 7% in the same period. The sales results cover all of Dauphin (except Harrisburg), Cumberland and Perry Counties and portions of Lancaster, Lebanon and York Counties. These results continue the trend the area experienced for the last half of 2008.

But there is good news on the horizon since the number of pending sales (sold although not yet settled) increased from December 2008 to the end of January 2009 by approximately 9%. And many of us are seeing increased buyer activity and additional properly priced homes come onto the market. In addition, there is some positive news out of Washington to assist both home buyers and sellers for 2009. In November 2008, The National Association of Realtors® put forth a recommendation that the $7500 tax credit for first time home buyers be expanded to all home buyers and that the tax credit be replaced with just a plain credit, meaning that there would not be any repayment vehicle attached for any buyer. This idea has taken form in Washington and it has a good chance of becoming part of the President’s Stimulus Package working its way through Congress. And there also appears that Congress may look favorably on crafting a mortgage program where mortgage rates could go as low as 4 or 4 1/2% this year.

So when looking into the future I see better times ahead for both home buyers and home sellers. It will not happen overnight but the landscape is looking much brighter for people that are looking into real estate. STAY TUNED.

why as is? gas heat? recent taxes? central air? basement?

by Don Roth

Arthur asked the above question on Trulia Voices with reference to a home that is listed for sale AS IS in Camp Hill, PA. And my response was as follows:

Thank you for your inquiry. There are many reasons, as already stated, why a seller may not want to make the necessary repairs to a home that has been listed for sale. An additional reason may be indifference because with the market as it is right now, some sellers do not have the inclination or the "emotional attachment" to a home so they just place a home on the market and hope it sells. My recommendation is to engage a REALTOR® to represent your interests if you decide to move forward. Why? Because depending on the circumstances, you will need someone to navigate through the total process to insure that if you decide to purchase the home, you can get the appropriate loan to close on the deal, but more importantly, that you get to the closing table.

Thanks, Don.

And if you have any additional questions, please contact me at

Greater Harrisburg, PA Real Estate Report

by Don Roth

The real estate market is really bad and no one is able to sell their house. Sellers are losing money on their homes or every home that is selling is a foreclosure, and those homes are depressing the values of the homes around it. How many times have we seen something similar in the paper or on the nightly news?

Well the market in Central Pennsylvania from Carlisle to Hershey and in Dauphin, Cumberland, Perry and northern York Counties has changed, but the news isn’t all bad. Yes, the number of sold homes has decreased in 2008 compared to 2007 and 2006. The number of sold homes has decreased by about 30% during the mid-May to mid-June 2008 time period and the average sales price had declined $203 per home, but the AVERAGE SALES PRICE in 2008 is HIGHER by about $3000 compared to the same period of 2006. And although sales are down right now, this trend will reverse itself in time. Yet when we see the numbers of 20% decrease or more of valuations in states like California, Arizona, Nevada and Florida, the above numbers give us the realization that local Central Pennsylvania market will rebound on firm footing. “It’s a ‘back-to-basics’ market,” says PAR consulting economist Austin Jaffe, Ph.D., chair of the Department of Insurance and Real Estate at the Smeal College of Business at Penn State University. “The era of easy money and exotic mortgages never took hold among homebuyers in the Commonwealth, so prices in Pennsylvania never increased as much or as quickly in other markets. There’s no reason to expect that prices will fall as much or as rapidly here.” “This is the beginning of a new period in the housing market - or a new ‘old’ period where consumers buy homes to live in and use as long-term investments, not as a get-rich-quick scheme,” adds Jaffe.

This real estate market, as far back as I can remember, never followed the substantial increases that some national markets experienced and therefore never experienced the falling of the cliff syndrome when these or similar markets corrected. Whether you live in Derry Township, the city of Harrisburg, Hampden Township or Lower Paxton Township, you will see a rebound in activity and an increased valuation for your homes in the future. I have been asked by many and they say that they want to move up to a larger home, but the value of their home may have decreased. That may be true. However, before they could purchase the next home, they had to sell their existing home but they still had to find a buyer. Now despite what you hear that there is no available credit for home buyers – FALSE – the lenders along with some of the governmental agencies have or are working on new programs to assist buyers in arranging financing packages for buyers to purchase homes. The credit standards are higher than in past years, but there is money available for you and your family – so take advantage and don’t let the negativity of the press prevent you from buying your next home. You and I cannot stop the constant beat of the national market, but I will on a regular basis give you the real news in our local market.

If you have any real estate related questions, or if you are considering buying or selling a home, do not hesitate to contact me. I can be reached at 717-579-2879 or via email at or view the information at

Displaying blog entries 1-9 of 9