The fiscal policy adopted by a city or a region can influence its growth potential. Municipalities that adopt policies beneficial to developers or new businesses can encourage new investments in the area. On the other hand, those that raise local taxes might drive away potential investors. Any such change affects the real estate market, too: taxes can determine the desirability of a community.
The U.S. real estate scene is complex, with many facets to consider. We wanted to uncover them, so we launched the Expert Insights series, a set of Q&A interviews with a selection of real estate professionals from all over the country. In each episode, we try to tackle a different issue, from a different area, aiming to gain a comprehensive market overview.
Inflated Taxation, Pittsburgh’s Weak Point
Pittsburgh, a strong contender for Amazon’s second headquarters, boasts a healthy housing market, which is one of the criteria considered by e-commerce companies when they search for new premises. The taxes, however, might make the city less attractive for people looking for a new place to live. For this episode of our Expert Insights series, we reached out to Lynne Bingham, a realtor at Howard Hanna Real Estate.
With 16 years of experience under her belt, Bingham is specialized in South Hills, South Side, Upper St. Clair, Mt. Lebanon, and Mt. Washington properties. She first entered the real estate scene in 2001 and, over the years, has succeeded in becoming considered in the top 1% of Howard Hanna’s producers. Today, Bingham shares with us part of her vast expertise concerning the Pittsburgh market. Read on to discover her insights.
Q: How did you end up working in this field and what drew you to it?
A: I owned a children’s clothing store for 17 years, and I was lucky to have met some wonderful customers. One was in the real estate industry and became my mentor when I sold my store in 2001.
Q: What does it take to be a successful broker in this highly competitive market?
A: You must always be a step ahead in terms of service, technology, response time, attention, and 24/7 assistance.
Q: Describe your most challenging project so far. How did you deal with it?
A: It was a condo building. The seller was very difficult, and I was the fourth agent to take on the project. No one ever sold anything before for almost four years, and the prices were too high for the product. I was able to sell four units before we parted ways. I felt like that was a win, but I suffered dearly and ended up with a stroke that season. I vowed to never let something like that happen again.
Q: Are there any investment/development clusters/submarkets in Pittsburgh right now? Where is development focused and why?
A: There are a lot! The main city areas of concentration are Downtown, in the Strip District, in Lawrenceville, and some in South Side. Development has been healthy in Pittsburgh, but if they continue the inflated taxation, that will come to a screeching halt!
Q: In your opinion, what are some of the strengths of the Pittsburgh real estate market, and what are the challenges? How do you deal with them?
A: The market strength is the property values. You can get so much more bang for your buck in Pittsburgh, but the challenges are the taxes, and it’s a real turn off, especially to newcomers. They literally think it’s a mistake! The problem is that a candidate can totally afford and qualify for a property, but when the financial institution throws in the taxes, they often get bumped out with the ratios being too high, so they become unqualified.
Q: How do you think the Pittsburgh residential real estate market is faring compared to other bigger/more established markets?
A: I think it’s up there with other markets. We don’t have as many bidding wars (in most areas) per se, and things tend to sit longer, but it’s definitely a good market.
Q: How is commercial real estate changing residential housing in Pittsburgh?
A: There are too many apartments.
Q: Where do you think the Pittsburgh real estate market is heading in 2018? Are there any major/exciting developments scheduled for delivery this year?
A: 2018 has started off much stronger than 2017. I’m not sure where it will go with the political environment. That will likely have an effect on the market, and I think this might be an issue down the road.
Q: Is there a certain project or initiative in the works that you think will have a big impact on residential development in Pittsburgh?
A: Of course, Amazon would be a huge feather, but I feel like even if we don’t win the lottery with them, we’ll continue to attract others in the health and tech industries to help with the growth of our region.
If you want to see how the real estate scene of some other U.S. states looks like, you can read our Q&A interviews covering the Tallahassee, Pittsburgh, Honolulu, Tempe, Cincinnati, and Raleigh markets.