PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — How hot is Pittsburgh real estate?
It’s so hot that investors from as far away as Texas and California are buying up houses here by the dozen.
But the biggest investor of all is homegrown Joe Calloway who has purchased 50 houses, like an abandoned two-bedroom in Allentown.
“This building was completely vacant, windows busted out, code violations, weeds from the neighboring property coming in, water damage,” Calloway said.
Calloway has spent a million and half dollars on derelict houses and is restoring each one to rent or sell.
Little by little, he’s helping to bring back Allentown and Arlington, which have been on the decline.
“These communities that have been long forgotten are being rejuvenated, and the depleted housing stock or undervalued housing stock is being renovated and being brought back to life,” Calloway said.
It’s a sign of the times – re-urbanzition — the move of young professionals and others back into the cities. Here in Pittsburgh, demand is in hyper drive.
Over the past decade, the average cost of a house in Lawrenceville has almost tripled from $46,267 in 2000 to $120,054 in 2013.
There are some homes that have sold for as high as $400,000. On the South Side, the average home price has gone from $68,000 to $140,000; and in Greenfield, home prices have jumped from $58,000 to $106,000.
“You have people coming in, buying houses, fixing them up and selling for a profit, and that drives certain people out,” Calloway says. “If you’re making minimum wage, you can’t afford a $120,000 house.”
On the South Side, investors rehabbed houses and turned a handsome profit, but Dan Murrer of RealStats says the neighborhood is now out of reach for middle class buyers.
“We see streets that didn’t have a sale price of more than $50,000, and now they’re selling for $200,000,” said Murrer.
That’s why Calloway is in Allentown.
“The success of the South Side is moving up the hill and coming into communities like Allentown,” he says.
But the hope is not for Allentown to become the next trendy neighborhood.
“The ultimate goal is for middle class people to put their roots down in this community and make it home,” said Calloway.