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Amos the Poker Cat

I am not that familiar with all the names and places around State College. I have only been there once or twice. Maybe I will one day I will take the famous Ice Cream Short Course.

Looking at the Housing statistics, Most places in Centre County have single family homes for less than the $150k except for the Centre Region.

Average new single family home prices 2002
Centre County $165K
Centre Region $234K
Lower Bald Eagle Valley Region $110K
Upper Bald Eagle Region $119K
Nittany Valley Region $90K
Penns Valley Region $141K
Mountaintop Region $77K
Moshannon Valley Region $97K

Two bedroom student housing for $700/month does not sound unreasonable.

Here is the report with maps.

Amos the Poker Cat

Maybe it is because they are only building houses for nostalgic baby boomers who want to retire where they went to college?

Sam

Amos,

Agreed. But I might point out a few things about the numbers you post. First, they are from 2002. Three years have passed us by. I wonder what those prices are now.

We might find some indication by looking at the other numbers posted at the link. As of 2002, the housing costs in most of these areas had gone up more than 100 percent since 1992. I am assuming that people living there in 1992 did not see a correspnding increase in wages. Maybe I'm wrong, but 100 percent?

Last, some of these places are really nowhere near State College. Bald Eagle? That's a hell of a commute.

Amos the Poker Cat

First, these are the numbers from the newspaper article, and report. So, if you want to complain about old numbers, start with them first.

Second, anybody that has looked at any census/sociological data at all knows that it takes years for data to be processed and collected. Three years old data is generally the best available at any time. They have income numbers in the report. Again, from 2002. Probably the most current available.

Third, I thought the main newpaper article was horribly written. You also had a number of questions that were not addressed at all by the artivle. There almost no useful numbers in it what so ever. The guy is looking for a $150K to $160K home. Any examples? Seems from the data that they(!) give it should not be that hard to find. If that is not the case, then the facts supporting this are completely missing from the article. Just an assertion that he can't find one. Horrible reporting.

It is not just the city of Bald Eagle. It is "Bald Eagle Valley Region", parts of which are very near the center area. Again in the report.

Three out of seven regions went up by 100%, Lower Bald Eagle Valley Region, Centre Region, and Penns Valley. A little over 7%/year increase will get you 100% in ten years. (7.18%) One region, Mountaintop Region, only went up 17% in ten years, or 1.6%/year.

Unlike the common "wisdom" is PIT, rising real estate, good, rising forclosures, bad.

Now, I have to go back to reading my new book.

Sam M

Amos,

I'm not complaining about the data, just pointing out that things have probably gotten worse in the past three years.

As poorly written as the article might be, it interests me because it supports anecdotal evidence that I have seen about the area. I have two cousins there. One has two kids and is married to a geologist who does pretty well. They moved to downtown State College about ten years ago. They say the could never afford their house today, and might not be able to continue maintaining it. Another good friend works for a bank. He will be a manager soon. He has no illusions about being able to live "in town." I have another friend who owns his own business in Maryland. He makes a lot of money, but he is thinking of moving to State College because his wife's family is there. One of the things holding him back is the price of housing in the places he could have afforded just a few years back.

No, State College is not the most expensive place in the state. But here's what has people wondering: A few years back, it WAS incredibly cheap. People who worked for Penn State instead of, say, a college in Pittsburgh or Philly, took a lot of ribbing for being out in the sticks. And it really is out in the sticks. There are not a lot of urban amenities, and the only "cultural amenities" (if understood to mean museums, libraries, concerts, etc.) were those associated with the college.

But there were benefits. The commute was basically nil if you wanted, because most people could afford to live in town. Or you could get some space if you were willing to drive a bit. It was just an extremely cheap place to live compared to other urban areas.

Or at least that's how we saw it, as people living in the general area. (I grew about an hour and a half away).

Growth will do that. The college gets bigger and bigger, and so does the supporting ecoonomic infrastructure. Which of course puts pressure on housing and other prices. Still, I think it is interesting to see how this develops. The one thing State College always had was developable land, as there were lot of farms on the periphery. And those appear to be getting developed. But how? In a way that is forcing people to look farther and farther afield.

Maybe that's good and maybe it's bad, depending on what you think about density, mixed use, etc. But for people who don't make a lot of money compared to college-professor types, it's pretty clearly bad. They cannot afford to live near their work. This is a classic problem wildly exaggerated in places like Aspen, Colorado, where firemen and policemen have to live up to 70 miles away. And that does not even speak to what's happening to the toilet scrubbers and burger flippers--critical actors in the service economy, but actors not written into the housing script in any meaningful way.

I worry that places like State College, once models of affordability, might be heading in that general direction. Why? Because, as stated in the original article, a guy who works in a PSU biology lab is starting to get antsy. And I happen to know a geologist, a bank manager and an entrepreneur who feel the same way.

Sure, maybe they were spoiled by a ridiculously undervalued market in the past. But maybe, just maybe, some of the things they are worried about bear watching.

Amos the Poker Cat

State College has gotten monster population growth, for PA that is, in the last 40 years. From 79K to 136K, that would seem to explain at lot of the price increase. Supply and demand.

Aspen? State College? I have spent most of the last 20 years out in Colorado, and when State College becomes a play ground for movie stars with multimullion dollar mountain side chalets like Aspen, Vail, Snowmass, and Telluride, then I will get worried. Now I think that is just a silly comparison.

Sam M

Amos,

Maybe your sense of things is different than mine, but I just don't see what it is about this comparison that strikes you as so "silly."

I never wrote--or implied--that State College offers a direct comparison to places like Aspen. I thought I made that clear when I wrote that those high falutin' western resorts offer "a classic problem wildly exaggerated." Note the "wildy exaggerated."

Now back to the classic problem. Places changes. Yes. I am aware of that. And some places change drastically. As you note, that is what is happening in State College. I think that is pretty obvious to anyone familiar with the region.
And anyone with a little common sense understands the idea of supply and demand. Thanks.

So the demand for housing in State College has gone up. And for a variety of reasons, the supply has not kept up in such a way as to keep housing costs where they were. So housing costs have risen. And therefore some of the people who used to live in State College can't anymore.

I happen to think that is worth thinking about. Maybe you don't. And maybe that makes you less silly than me in some way. So be it.

I just thought anyone willing to indulge this sort of whimsy might be interested to see that the excluded group in State College seems to be moving beyond stereotypically downtrodden professions such as toilet scrubber and burger flipper to the kinds of people that the univerity is bringing in. People who work in engineering labs.

No, they are not being outbid on houses by Robert Redford, Brad Pitt or other movie stars who want to live in chalets. But they are being outbid by somebody. And they are being forced to look farther and farther afield for places where they are not being outbid.

I think that's an important development in the central PA region. You don't. Sorry.

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