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September 2009 Central Pennsylvania Real Estate Report

by Don Roth

Hello to fall. I’m looking out the window as I write this report after just having come in from the outside and the feel of fall is in the air. I’m sure there will be many of non-fall like temperatures in the coming weeks. We hope!

I am pleased to report the real estate activity for September 2009 compared to September 2008 and the anticipated improvement that I have been speaking about in the past few months is coming to fruition. In addition to the improvement in the real estate market, I have made, I hope, an improvement of how the results are formatted. I have changed the format from municipality to school district because more and more buyers are looking at school districts rather than the municipality. Hopefully, this will give a better comparison since in many instance the school districts overlap more than one municipality. I hope you will find this change beneficial.

The number of homes sold in September 2009 compared to September 2008 declined by 3%, and the average sales price declined by the same 3%. These numbers are the best year over year numbers that we have seen in the Greater Harrisburg Market in some time, and although the coming months may not totally reflect that trend, I think it is again giving home buyers and sellers a true indication of what we can expect in 2010. The average sales price for the area for September was $187,007, and the days on market increased to 78 days. The number of homes available in all residential categories increased slightly to 4,271 properties.

The trend in the type of financing, FHA and VA mortgages, was 45% of the total transaction compared to 27% in 2008. Much of this is still due to the $8000 First Time Home Buyer Tax Credit, which will expire November 30, 2009; more on that later. But in retrospect, these results are improving and again that trend should continue.

Average Sales Price: September 2008 vs 2009
West Shore
School District
Days on Market
Camp Hill
Cumberland Valley
West Shore
East Pennsboro
East Shore
Central Dauphin
Derry Township
Lower Dauphin


As can be seen in this report, as well as previous reports, the variances in price and days on market can be substantial on a month to month basis, but overall, the numbers are representative and only a comparison by neighborhoods will give you the specifics for areas that a buyer or seller may be looking. If you need specific details on neighborhoods, please contact me at

With respect to the continuation of the $8000 First Time Home Buyer Tax Credit beyond November 30, please click on the following link

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.

The real estate market continues to tread water in the Central Pennsylvania market, according to the sold numbers for the month of April 2009 when compared to April 2008. The average sales price declined from $189,197 in 2008 to $184,702 in 2009, a decline of 2%. The average days on the market before a home was placed under contract increased by 8 days to 85 days in 2009, but it should be noted that this comparison is returning to the normal comparison that we experienced in the early 2000s. I think the most interesting statistic is that the number of VA and FHA loans as a percentage of closed transaction increased to 39% in April compared to 19% in 2008. This trend will continue to increase for the rest of the year since these financing vehicles are more consistent in comparison to what the conventional no government loans were previously. The rates are comparable to conventional loans and this increase in these types of loans reflects the new reality that we are recognizing in the financing arena. Below are some comparisons of local municipalities in our market.

Average Sales Price April 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
Susquehanna Township
Swatara Township
East Hanover Township
West Hanover Township


In some instances, you see a large variance in either the average selling price or days on market and this is looking at a small time frame of 30 days and that can be caused by one or two large sales or by custom homes being entered into the Multi List and showing zero days on the market. If you have any questions about your local municipality, please contact me at your convenience.

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