Residential Construction

Residential Construction in Cranberry: It’s Back

There’s an old joke, familiar to longtime residents of the region. It goes like this: because Pittsburgh always seems to be ten years behind the rest of the country, if someone were to announce that the world was coming to an end, people would flock here so they could stick around for another decade.

The same thing applies to the housing market. Back in the early and middle years of the last decade, there was a housing bubble that sent builders scrambling and property prices soaring in one market after another. Then, a few years later, they crashed. Here in Southwestern Pennsylvania, we’re still waiting for the bubble to inflate. On the other hand, the crash that so many others experienced, never really materialized here either.
There was, to be sure, something of a slowdown in new construction, starting with the financial crisis of 2008. And the local housing resale market was affected as well. Even in fast-growing Cranberry Township, the number of building permits issued and new units built was subdued for a time. But while many other parts of the country are still struggling to work through foreclosures and shed the glut of housing accumulated during the boom, new home construction is coming back strong in Cranberry and property values are climbing.

Last October, for example, six percent of the home mortgages in Southwestern Pennsylvania were underwater - where the amount owed on the loan was greater than the market value of the property itself. Nationally, however, the average was 23 percent underwater, and in certain sun belt markets like Miami, Orlando, Phoenix and Las Vegas, it was over 45 percent. So, by comparison, the Greater Pittsburgh area is actually doing quite well.

Cranberry’s new housing boom, however, looks somewhat different than its pre-bubble boom, which had historically tilted toward subdivisions of detached single family homes. Instead, what the Township is experiencing has been a surge in apartment buildings and in townhomes. That change in new development styles mirrors a profound shift in household living arrangements: in 2000, the average household size was 2.8 residents; by 2010, it was closer to 1.8, suggesting a far more diverse mix of family living patterns than at any time in the past.

Today, while most of the Pittsburgh metropolitan area continues its recovery, Cranberry’s resurgent housing market is faring especially well in comparison to other residential communities in the region. According to the building trade publication BreakingGround, improving economic conditions, coupled with continued price appreciation, are providing stability for the housing market. Last year in Cranberry, for example, more than 200 new residential units were built at a cost of $45 million; in 2009, the corresponding construction spend was just $25 million.

During that same period, however, commercial construction saw even more growth - significantly more than the average had been during the pre-bubble years. New office space, in particular, greatly increased the Township’s capacity for employment and, by extension, the need for housing to accommodate those new employees. That pair of developments continued during the first half of 2012 with a combined residential and non-residential construction costs estimated at $82 million. And the outlook for the remainder of the year is promising.

Official Site of the National Association of REALTORS®

Help is Available

The Butler County Housing Authority Homeownership Program offers free confidential counseling to Cranberry residents, including: first-time homebuyers mortgage affordability analysis; credit and budget counseling; foreclosure prevention counseling and loan modification assistance. Schedule a private counseling appointment on Wednesdays in the Cranberry Public Library.