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North Hills Monthly

Buying or Selling in 2018? Hot Trends in the Housing Market

Sep 01, 2017 08:33AM ● By Shelly Tower Rushe

Few life events are as exciting and nerve-wracking as buying or selling a home. Educating yourself on both financial and design trends will help make the process less daunting and more fruitful.

Looking for a bargain? You’re probably out of luck for now. Home prices and interest rates are continuing their slow ascent, thanks to a more stable economy. Interest rates are still extremely low historically speaking, between 3.12 percent and 3.72 percent APR at the time of this article. Home prices are rising, however, explained Anthony Leone, Realtor at RE/MAX Select Realty, because of low inventory. “Be patient if you are looking for existing construction,” he advised. 

New home builds are on the rise but they’re not necessarily less expensive. According to a National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) survey, carpenters, framing crews, and masons are especially hard to come by. This shortage means that available contractors are charging more, thereby increasing the overall cost of homes. 

However, those looking to sell are in luck. “We’re seeing record margins on home sales,” said Leone, recalling a recent sale in the Ross Township area. “The couple bought the house about seven years ago for $80,000. They painted and updated their hardwood floors and sold it for $150,000.”

Leone is seeing an increased interest in the West View and Ross Township areas, with more inquiries from millennials and professionals. “The price points are significantly lower when compared to Cranberry and Wexford, and it’s easier to drive into the city,” he said, adding that the suburban atmosphere paired with quick access to downtown Pittsburgh’s culture, sports, and nightlife make this area the “best of both worlds.”

Families that are a bit more established and those with school-aged children gravitate toward the Wexford and Cranberry areas. “These areas continue to do the right things in terms of the municipalities and parks and such,” Leone explained, pointing to the Seneca Valley, Pine Richland, and North Allegheny school districts as especially appealing. 

No matter what your age or situation, Zita Billmann, Realtor, ABR, CRS, E-PRO with Coldwell Banker Real Estate Services, believes that being realistic within your price range is key. 

“We all want the perfectly updated home at our desired price point,” said Billmann, who was ranked the #1 agent in Pennsylvania in 2016. “When searching for a new home, choose a home that has your top three needs or desires. If a yard is most important, stick to that and work with the house features. Upgrade the home as time goes on.” 

But what about trends in design? What are home buyers looking for in their new homes?

 According to, large backyards, updated kitchens, and privacy are the top concerns. Billmann adds that modern bathrooms are hot right now, too. “Tile showers and glass doors to make a spa-like look and feel are very desirable,” she said. “Many buyers are also looking for homes with lots of natural light.” 

Leone agrees that kitchens are a top concern and also includes bathrooms on the list. “Updated cabinetry, granite counters, tile showers—these are the updates that home buyers are looking for,” he said. 

In new builds, Leone is seeing wood tile, farmhouse styles and copper, and Billmann is noticing clean lines “with a rustic modern twist” as well as dark hardwood floors and modern lighting. Both realtors mentioned white cabinets and gray color schemes. According to the NAHB, this modern farmhouse trend will continue, with features including metal roofs, shiplap and natural wood. Sources like House Beautiful and Elle Décor, which focus on quickly shifting trends, point to faux marble, subway tiles and less brass. 

“If you are looking to sell, try to research some of the current trends and implement some of these styles if possible. This will appeal to the masses once showings start,” explained Leone.

Billmann added that buyers are looking for something that has an eclectic look that is both elegant and comfortable. “It has to fit in with today’s busy lifestyles,” she explained. “Today’s buyer wants their new home to work with a busy active family as well as function as an excellent entertaining space.”

She added that she is seeing navy blue and brushed gold fixtures more and more in homes. “I have seen navy blue kitchen cabinets combined with white cabinets and a navy backsplash; it’s a fun twist!” she said.

No matter what your home style is, clean and neat sells. “Always try to make it appear like a model home—extremely neat with minimal clutter,” said Leone. Billmann wholeheartedly agrees and adds that a fresh coat of paint goes a long way.  

She also stresses that working with the right real estate agent can prepare you for both buying and selling a home. “When selling a home, select an agent who’s going to give you ideas for preparing your home and who is not afraid to tell you what needs to be done to be market-ready,” she said.

Leone agrees that finding an agent is key for buying as well. “It’s always a plus to have your own representation,” he said. “When it comes to existing homes, we constantly have new inventory on a daily basis. Likewise, there are a lot of new construction options within the city and throughout the suburbs, so when considering a new construction home, make sure to choose an agent that is familiar with new construction and the building process.”