This time of year, it's hard to miss the impact of tourism on the midstate. Hershey is packed from end to end, traffic on Route 30 in Lancaster crawls past Dutch Wonderland and the outlets. Buses with out-of-state plates can be spotted wandering around the back roads from Lebanon to Red Lion, full of optimists hoping to spy a buggy or two.
We all know the economic benefits to our cities and towns from the annual influx, but what about the impact on our local real estate market?
I’ve noticed several interesting things on this topic from a residential and commercial perspective. As a Realtor, I’ve personally shown dozens of homes to out-of-state buyers over the years – buyers who first found Lancaster (where I had my business) as tourists and subsequently wanted to live right in the region they had visited.
One truism known to agents around the Lancaster/Berks area is that eastern Lancaster County is a tight market – not much for sale, usually. I attribute this in large part to the popularity of the area for tourists, with Strasburg, Sight and Sound, Bird in Hand, Intercourse Village, and so on. People just want to be a part of it, in particular older buyers looking to find that slow pace they witnessed…
Another thing I notice is that the commercial real estate market really takes off when tourism reaches respectable proportions. Try finding a decent building in Hershey – we’ve tried. Downtown Lancaster has experienced a significant renaissance, and the commercial market has tightened significantly in the key areas impacted by the efforts to bring tourists in. I’m always impressed by the tidiness and “cute factor” of downtown Annville – and Main Street is usually very busy with visitors. Not much available to lease there, either.
Lastly, I’ve noticed that the residents of these areas aren’t generally excited about the tourism phenomenon. Many times folks in the market to buy or sell express their desire to “stay away from the touristy areas” and nod their head significantly. You know who I’m talking about… I bet it might even be you.
So perhaps it’s a love/hate relationship that Central PA has with tourism. We are glad for the efforts of the tourism bureaus and municipalities to bring dollars into our region, and enjoy seeing cities and towns rejuvenated by the human traffic… as long as they stay just far enough away from our house.