August home sales beset by low inventory, rising mortgage rates

Home sales in central Pennsylvania continued behind last year’s pace in August, as a new factor – mortgage interest rates nearing 8% – adds to the slowdown.

Greater Harrisburg

In the three counties covered by the Greater Harrisburg Association of Realtors, year-over-year house sales last month were down 22.1% in Cumberland County (358 to 279); 12.3% in Dauphin County (341 to 299); and 34.2% in Perry County (38 to 25).

Compared with July 2023, they were up 18.2 in Cumberland, up 22% in Dauphin and down 16.7% in Perry.

The median sold price in August was $308,000 in Cumberland County, an increase of 2.7% from a year ago.

Average days on market was 17, and average sold to original list price ratio was 100.7%.

In Dauphin County, the median sold price of $255,000 was 10.9% more than a year ago and 8.5% more than July 2023. Average days on market was 17, and average sold to OLP ratio was 99.6%, which is just under asking price.

Perry County’s median sold price of $242,000 is 19.5% above what it was 12 months ago and 9.5% higher than last month. Average days on market came to 22, while average sold to OLP ratio was 97.4%.

Wendell Hoover, 2023 president of the Greater Harrisburg Association of Realtors, said in an email that “the sellers’ market has continued,” as fewer homes are on the market as compared with last year, which has in turn led to fewer homes sold.

“Sales prices have continued to increase in comparison to last year,” he continued. “In talking to a lot of homeowners over the past few months, there are a good number that would like to sell but their low current interest rate is too hard to give up (compared with) today’s rates. So when interest rates do decrease, there may finally be an increase to the number of homes on the market.”


In York County, 515 homes sold in August, 18% more than in August 2022. In Adams County, 109 houses sold, 3% fewer than a year ago.

The median house price in Adams was $295,000, a 6% rise from a year ago. In York, the median home price was $275,000, a 10% jump.

Year to date, 719 houses have sold in Adams County, 14% fewer than a year ago through August. In York County, 3,561 settlements have been recorded in the first eight months of 2023, a 20% decrease.

The median sales price in Adams County through the first eight months was $281,000, about the same from this time last year. In York County, the median to date was $263,900, a 8% increase from 2022.

Reid Weinbrom, 2023 president of the Realtors Association of York & Adams Counties, stated in a release: “The continuous shortage of available housing inventory, coupled with strong buyer demand, consistently impacts sales prices, leading many sellers to receive multiple offers shortly after listing their properties.”

Lancaster County

Year over year, Lancaster County home sales declined 14.9% in August, from 571 to 486. However, they were up 12.8% month over month, from 431 to 486.

Average sold to OLP ratio was 103.2%, significantly above asking price.

Jeff Peters, president-elect of the Lancaster County Association of Realtors, said in a statement:

“August saw the highest levels of new listings this summer with 511 homes coming to the market; that’s an increase of 12.3% compared to July. Pending homes fell a modest 1.8% from the previous month, and closed sales saw a 12.8% jump compared (with) July.”

He also pointed out that the county’s median sold price rose to a summer high of $330,000 – a 4.8% increase over August 2022. “The average days on market for a home to sell was consistent with June and July, at 16. A similar trend of ‘cash’ purchases accounted for just over 26% of all purchases in August. Even with a slight increase in new listings, buyers are still struggling to compete for properties. I believe we’ll continue to see an increased median sold price as we approach the fall market.”

Paula Wolf is a freelance writer

Armstrong World Industries reduces carbon footprint, increases use of renewable energy

Lancaster-based Armstrong World Industries Inc. has reduced its carbon footprint by 13% since 2019, the designer and manufacturer of ceilings and walls revealed in its third annual sustainability report.

The report, “Building a Healthy Tomorrow,” highlights progress toward AWI’s 2030 targets in the three pillars of its sustainability program: Healthy and Circular Products, Healthy Planet and Thriving People and Communities.

Other highlights include:

· An increase in renewable electricity use to 13% of total usage as part of the 2030 goal to reach 100%.

· An increase in the number of community organizations supported by its employee giving match program of over 100% from 2021 levels.

· Continued progress toward a zero-injury safety goal with a 9% reduction in Occupational Safety and Health Administration recordable injuries.

AWI President and CEO Vic Grizzle said in a release, “At Armstrong, we remain committed to driving positive change in everything we do. Our sustainability efforts are a testament to our company’s values, and we are proud of our progress over the last year.”

The report also showcases other company initiatives and achievements over the past year, including supporting greater building efficiency through the development of an energy-saving ceiling system.

With $1.2 billion in revenue in 2022, Armstrong World Industries Inc. has approximately 3,000 employees and a manufacturing network of 16 facilities, plus seven facilities dedicated to its WAVE joint venture.

Paula Wolf is a freelance writer

Home health services provider adds remote technology to client care

Lancaster-based OneWell, a nationwide home health services provider, is adding a remote care platform to help its clients stay independent and safe in their homes and communities.

SmartCare by OneWell, powered by Artemis Care Inc.’s eCare4You, will provide clients with timely reminders for medicines, social and medical appointments, and activities of daily living, along with daily check-ins in their preferred language.

Those with medical needs can utilize easy-to-use equipment to measure vital signs and submit health assessments via Alexa or smartphones, a release said. Clients may also book Uber rides and schedule in-home assistance through SmartCare.

SmartCare by OneWell uses conversational technology – like Alexa – to ensure participant safety and a regular daily routine. Data is collected via approved medical equipment to produce readings through an easily accessible portal. All information is securely managed in compliance with HIPAA and other requirements.

“We made a promise to build an integrated system to deliver health care efficiently at a lower cost,” said Aytekin Oldaç, president and CEO of OneWell. “SmartCare by OneWell delivers on this promise by providing higher quality care at a lower cost to our clients, allowing them to be safer and healthier in their homes and communities.”

Arun Bantval, founder and president of Artemis Care, a remote care technology company based in Plainsboro, New Jersey, added: “This opportunity to … integrate our technology with OneWell’s superlative services brings the best of all worlds to the participants … . The ability to personalize and customize the solution to individual care needs means that the participants will get the right care they need when they need it.”

Paula Wolf is a freelance writer

Interiors Home expands, opening furniture store in York

Interiors Home has opened a third location, at 351 Loucks Road in York. PHOTO/PROVIDED

Furniture retailer Interiors Home has opened a third location, at 351 Loucks Road in York, adding to its stores in Lancaster and Camp Hill.

A release said the 40,000-square-foot York store will create at least 30 jobs and include such specialty shops as a Sleep Gallery, Windows & Walls, Rug Bazaar and Outlet Center.

Like all Interiors Home locations, it will feature complimentary design services. The York location is open 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday; 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday; and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday.

“We are extremely excited to join the York community,” said President and CEO Todd Lehman. “Interiors Home is redesigning the furniture shopping experience. Customers want and deserve more when it comes to quality and affordability, and we pride ourselves on exceeding expectations by offering a wide variety of unique styles and brands. From casual and functional to high-end statement pieces, we have something for everyone and every budget.”

A second-generation family-owned business founded by Lillian Lehman, Interiors Home opened its first store in Lancaster in 1969.

Paula Wolf is a freelance writer

Local home sales slow as mortgage rates climb

Soaring interest rates have put the brakes on the once-sizzling housing market, as the pace of local home sales continued to slow in September. Prices, however, are still up over last year, though the month-over-month trend tells a different story.

Harrisburg area

In Cumberland County closed sales fell 6.6% last month year over year, from 347 to 324. Through the first three quarters of 2022, the total is down 5.8%.

The median sold price was $275,000, up 7.8% from September 2021 and 13.1% year to date. But it decreased 8.3% from August, when the price reached $300,000.

Average days on market was 17, while the average sold to original list price ratio was 100.1%.

“If properties are priced aggressively from the start, they are still seeing activity, but where there may have been five to 10 offers per property (at the height of the market a few months ago), we are now seeing fewer offers and increased opportunities for buyers to negotiate price and terms,” Sylvia Hess, president of the Greater Harrisburg Association of Realtors, wrote in an email.

Closed sales decreased 11% in Dauphin County, from 356 in September 2021 to 317 in September 2022. They are down 6.4% year to date.

Last month, the median sold price was $230,500, up 12.4% from a year ago and 12.5% year to date. That was up slightly from August, when the price was $230,000.

The average days on market was 23, and the average sold to OLP ratio was 99.5%.

In more rural Perry County, with its smaller sample size, September home sales rose from 34 to 40, though they’re down 8.4% year to date.

The median sold price of $217,450 is identical to last September’s and up 9% through the first nine months of 2022.

The average days on market was 25; the average sold to OLP ratio was 97.5%.

Hess wrote: “There is a lot of uncertainty in the market as many buyers seem to be in a ‘wait and see’ mind frame. Interest rate hikes have cooled buyer demand and increased marketing time.”

In the week ending Oct. 13, the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 6.92%, according to Freddie Mac, the highest average rate since April 2002. A year ago, the 30-year fixed rate was well under half that, at 3.05%.

“The higher interest rates have sidelined many buyers who may now be unable to purchase based on their increase in payments, while others are sidelining their search in hopes that rates will again come down,” she said.

“We are seeing more price reductions and increased days on market,” Hess added, “though I’m not sure if it is based upon properties being overpriced; … interest rate hikes; more properties to choose from; apprehension of our overall economy; or a combination of a few of these factors.”


The Realtors Association of York & Adams Counties reported that 947 homes sold in Adams County through September, the same as this time last year. In York County, 5,047 settlements were recorded during the first nine months of 2022, a 7% decrease from last year.

In September alone, the 111 homes sold in Adams County were 8% fewer than the prior year. York County’s total last month – 565 – was 19% below the September 2021 figure.

The median sales price in Adams County was $275,000, a 7% increase since last September. In York County, the median fell 4%, to $249,900.

Year to date, the median sales price in Adams was $279,000, a 13% jump from 2021 at this time. The median sales price in York climbed to $245,000, a 10% increase from the first three quarters of 2021.

“The real estate market has been in the process of adjusting recently due to several economic factors impacting buyer enthusiasm,” including the jump in mortgage interest rates, Elle Hale, the Realtors’ association president, said in a release.

“Homes have been sitting on the market slightly longer than they were a few months ago and sellers have needed to adjust to these changing market conditions.”

Hale said in a phone interview that if houses are priced in a “marketable range” sellers won’t have to reduce the price.

Buyers are still coming from other states, adding to local demand, she said.

The mortgage rates increases, however, are especially tough for first-time buyers, Hale said, “who have to consider what they want their monthly payment to be.”

Lancaster County

In Lancaster County, closed sales declined 16.2% in September, from 579 to 485. Of the houses sold, 297 were on the market no more than 10 days.

Meanwhile, the median sold price – $299,900 – was down 4.8% from August but up 13.2% from September 2021.

Average days on market was 16 in September. The average sold to OLP ratio was 101.5%, as some homes were still selling for above asking price.

Like Hess and Hale, Lancaster County Association of Realtors President Greg Bardell said rising interest rates continue to negatively affect overall market activity.

“As the numbers show, we are seeing fewer listings coming on the market and fewer home sales,” he wrote in an email. “That being said, we are still sitting at about one month of inventory, which still has sellers in control of the market.”

September is historically a slow month, so Bardell said he wasn’t surprised sales were soft. “One thing I am seeing is that we are now trending below the five-year averages for new listings, new pendings and closed sales. I think that trend probably continues through the winter.

“I should also note that there are parts of the country (that) experience numbers a lot worse than what we are seeing here. Lancaster continues to be a steady, diversified real estate market despite the slowdown.”

Paula Wolf is a freelance writer

PA-based upward broadband bringing network to Fulton County

Fulton County is expected to receive an extensive broadband network courtesy of Upward Broadband, a Lancaster County-based and family-owned fixed wireless internet provider serving more than 1,000 people in underserved areas of Lancaster, Chester, Franklin, Fulton, Huntingdon and Mifflin counties.

Upward Broadband recently signed an agreement with Alleghenies Broadband Inc. to bring reliable, high-speed internet to approximately 2,900 Fulton County homes. According to Federal Communications Commission (FCC) definitions, many of these homes are currently unserved or underserved by internet providers.

Homes and businesses that to do not have access to internet services offering at least 25 megabits per second (Mpbs) downstream and 3 Mbps upstream are considered unserved. Some 24 percent of Fulton County’s households fall into the unserved category, according to a February 2022 Center for Rural Pennsylvania report.

Upward Broadband’s agreement with Alleghenies Broadband Inc. calls for building a fixed wireless internet spanning 10 towers across Fulton County.

“Upward Broadband recognizes the need for reliable high-speed internet has become even more urgent in our digital-first society, as seen during the COVID-19 pandemic. This is especially true in rural communities with limited access to broadband and wireless infrastructure,” said Tim Beiler, co-owner of Upward Broadband. “With the tremendous cultural leap towards teleworking and distance learning, reliable internet access is essential for economic opportunities, including the ability to run businesses, remotely apply for job opportunities and work from home.”

A segment of Fulton County has been served by Upward Broadband since 2021. The coverage area will expand to more than 400 square miles with the new towers, increasing to approximately 4,000 the number of accessible homes. In addition, 250 businesses from Springfield Township to Fort Littleton will be served, along with area schools, municipal buildings, and other organizations. Included in this are 700 households and 50 businesses in unserved areas.

One new tower will be constructed, and nine existing towers will be equipped with fixed wireless internet transmission equipment. The towers, backed by high-speed fiber, will disseminate internet services with speeds up to 100 Mbps download and 60 Mbps upload to serviceable customers. Each tower services a 10-mile radius.

The project is financed by an award from Fulton County using funds from the American Rescue Act.

“We are grateful for the tremendous partnerships we’ve established with these key players,” Beiler said. “Our team looks forward to continuing working together to bring this expansion to life as quickly as possible.”

Upward Broadband is seeking to complete the network buildout by June 30, 2023. Upward Broadband is also working to expand coverage in Huntingdon County, with a completion date of early 2023.

Calvary Fellowship Homes appoints new president/CEO

M. Dale Weaver Jr. and Cliff Hurter. PHOTO/PROVIDED

The board of directors of Manheim Township-based Calvary Fellowship Homes announced the appointment of M. Dale Weaver Jr. as president/CEO, effective Oct. 31.

He takes over for Cliff Hurter, who’s retiring after more than 42 years with the Christian organization, the last 34 as CEO.

Calvary Homes is a Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services five-star life plan community/continuing care retirement community with independent living cottages and apartments, personal care, dementia care and skilled nursing.

Weaver’s experience in the senior living industry includes serving as vice president of technology and facilities/CTO at Landis Communities and in a similar role at Brethren Village. Previous to the, he worked at Siemens Healthcare serving hospitals and health systems. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering from Grove City College and an MBA in finance from Penn State.

In a release, Calvary Fellowship Homes also praised the leadership of outgoing CEO Hurter, a founding leader in Lancaster Area Senior Services.

Interim Board Chair Jon Sensenig said in a release, “Few people work in one organization for 40-plus years. For Cliff, his work has been a Christian ministry of serving older adults. Cliff embodies Calvary Homes’ values of integrity, respect, teamwork and stewardship. Thank you, Cliff. We celebrate you, your leadership and your representation of Christ.”

Paula Wolf is a freelance writer

On the move: Power Train East/West York LLC, Landmark Homes and more

Edgars Home Furnishings LLC leased 7,500 square feet of retail space at 542 S. Main St., Shrewsbury, from Shrewsbury LP. Bennett Williams Commercial represented both parties.

Ace of Vapes LLC leased 1,368 square feet of retail space at 455 Carlisle St., Hanover, from Trone Rental Properties LLC. Bennett Williams Commercial represented the tenant.

Yugen Brazilian Jiu Jitsu leased 1,044 square feet of retail space at 3755 E. Market St., Springettsbury Township, from Stony Brook Real Estate LLC. Bennett Williams Commercial represented the landlord.

R.L. Ferraro leased 600 square feet of retail space at 3755 E. Market St., Springettsbury Township, from Stony Brook Real Estate LLC. Bennett Williams Commercial represented both parties.

Riverview Mechanical LLC leased 2,100 square feet of industrial space at 150 Kreutz Creek Road, Hellam Township, from Denniston Associates. Bennett Williams Commercial represented both parties.

Just Care Massage & Stretch LLC leased 1,920 square feet of retail space at 1000 Carlisle St., Hanover, from the Trone Family Trust. Bennett Williams Commercial represented both parties.

Gryllidae Wireless Inc. leased 1,050 square feet of retail space at 582 Shrewsbury Commons, Shrewsbury Township, from Shrewsbury Commons LP. Bennett Williams Commercial represented both parties.

Bosphorus Enterprises Inc. leased 1,000 square feet of retail space at 6067 Allentown Blvd., Lower Paxton Township, from Paxton Square Associates. Lisa Shull of Bennett Williams Commercial represented both parties.

Alternative Rehabilitation Communities leased 2,815 square feet of retail space at 2292 Industrial Highway, Springettsbury Township, from R. Thakrar. Bennett Williams Commercial represented the landlord.

Power Train East/West York LLC leased 2,717 square feet of retail space at 2323 Carlisle Road, West Manchester Township, from Shiloh Village LLC. Bennett Williams Commercial represented both parties.

T.Bhatti purchased 1.18 acres at 0 Blooming Grove Road, Manheim Township (York County), from D. Cramer. Bennett Williams Commercial represented both parties.

B&T Lancaster Owner LLC purchased 5,482 square feet of retail space at 2310 Lincoln Highway East, East Lampeter Township, from Clearview Associates. Bennett Williams Commercial represented the seller.

Troy Raven LLC purchased 3,530 square feet of retail space at 928 Lincoln Way East, Chambersburg, from ADC Atlantic Properties LLC. Bennett Williams Commercial represented the seller.

Landmark Commercial Realty negotiated the sale of a 27,599-square-foot multi-tenant office building at 6375 Mercury Drive, Hampden Township. The property, known as the Mercury Building, sits on 3.69 acres and is occupied by long-term medical and professional tenants.

916 Industrial LLC purchased an 8,100-square-foot industrial investment property at 916 S. 18th St., Harrisburg. Landmark Commercial Realty/TCN handled the transaction.

Landmark Homes purchased approximately 4.25 acres from the Vartan Group within Susquehanna Union Green, at Progress Avenue and Linglestown Road, Susquehanna Township, where it intends to build 120 units of multifamily housing. Landmark Commercial Realty/TCN negotiated the transaction.

Cordelia’s Cake & Bake Shoppe leased commercial space at 6130 Jonestown Road in Lower Paxton Township. RSR Realtors represented the tenant and Landmark Commercial Realty/TCN represented the landlord, MER Properties LLC.

BrookStreet Group LLC purchased a commercial condominium at 85 Shannon Drive, Lower Paxton Township. Landmark Commercial Realty/TCN represented the buyer and SVN Latus Commercial Realty represented the seller, Gateway Corp Center LP.

Genuine Parts Co. leased an 8,000-sqaure-foot retail suite at 5480 Jonestown Road, Lower Paxton Twp, with plans to open a NAPA Auto Parts. NAI/CIR represented the tenant and Landmark Commercial Real Estate/TCN represented the landlord, Jonestown Road Associates.

Care Capital Management signed a long-term lease renewal and expanded its space in Slate Hill Business Center on Hartzdale Drive, Lower Allen Township. The business, which provides pharmacy services to retail, industrial and home-bound customers, added 3,675 square feet, making 7,025 square feet total. Landmark Commercial Realty/TCN represented both parties in the transaction.

Paramount Sol LLC purchased a 2,800-square-foot commercial property at 344 S. 10th St., Lemoyne. Landmark Commercial Realty/TCN represented the buyer and NAI/CIR represented the seller, Manufacturers and Traders Trust Co.

Mixed-Up Productions signed a long-term lease for 4,950 square feet in 1351 Eisenhower Blvd., Building 2, Swatara Township, a flex warehouse property. The company is moving its operations, showroom and retail from Middletown. Landmark Commercial Realty/TCN represented the tenant.

Patriot Investment Associates purchased a 26,600-square-foot office building in Lower Paxton Township. Landmark Commercial Realty/TCN negotiated the transaction on behalf of the buyer and the seller, 845 Associates LLC.

The Smooth Generation leased a 1,758-square-foot suite at Olde Liberty Square, 4813 Jonestown Road, Lower Paxton Township. Landmark Commercial Realty/TCN represented both parties.

Spring House Brewing Co. is planning a new Lancaster city brewpub that will replace its city taproom at 25 W. King St. The yet-to-be-named brewpub will be housed in the former Alley Kat restaurant and bar at 30 W. Lemon St., which closed July 17.

Twisted Sisters Ice Cream and Handmade Chocolate has opened at 47 N. Main St., Manheim, in commercial complex REO Manheim Marketplace. Twisted Sisters also has a shop in Orwigsburg Township, Schuylkill County, and operates an ice cream truck.

Jones Firearms has opened in a former bank building in Manor Township. The gun store at 2200 Columbia Ave. sells a variety of handguns, long guns and ammunition as well as firearms accessories.

Pizzeria 211 has opened at Southern Market in Lancaster city, in a newly renovated restaurant space along Queen Street. The historic farmers market reopened as a food hall in January.

Compiled by Paula Wolf

Fast-growing West Shore Home opens second headquarters

West Shore Homes newest headquarters. PHOTO/PROVIDED

West Shore Home, the central Pennsylvania-based, technology-enabled home remodeling company, announced the opening of a second headquarters in Mechanicsburg.

The 67,000-square-foot building at 4600 Westport Drive is an expansion of the corporate office at 3 Crossgate Drive, also in Mechanicsburg, which opened last year. A release said the new headquarters will hold over 300 employees, servicing the rapidly expanding company’s 33 branches in 15 states.

Founded in 2006, West Shore Home specializes in window, door and bath remodeling and replacement, with most projects completed in a day.

The Westport Drive site is an existing structure that’s being redesigned in three phases. Phase I, which is completed, has the capacity for 180 employees in West Shore Home’s call center that fields queries from customers around the country. Other support teams are onsite, including information technology and human resources.

Phase II, to be finished by October, will expand the facility to 47,000 square feet and is expansion space for several support departments.

Phase III, the final 20,000 square feet, remains in the planning phase. The build out will start early next year.

Westport Drive’s open design concept, similar to the Crossgate Drive office, features light industrial architecture and modern décor.

“West Shore Home is growing at an explosive rate,” CEO B.J. Werzyn said in the release. “With this comes the need for even greater corporate space as we continue to expand. In the past three years, we have quadrupled the number of employees within the company. I am proud that we continue to lay down roots in central Pennsylvania, bringing even more jobs to region.”

Paula Wolf is a freelance writer

US existing-home sales decline for the fifth straight month

Across the country, existing-home sales in June fell for the fifth consecutive month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.12 million, the National Association of Realtors reported Wednesday.

That figure was down 5.4% from May and 14.2% from June 2021.

Meanwhile, the median existing-home sales price rose 13.4% from a year ago to $416,000, a record high. This marks 124 consecutive months of year-over-year increases, the longest streak on record.

The median price in the Northeast – a region that includes central Pennsylvania – was $453,300, a 10.1% jump from one year ago.

“Falling housing affordability continues to take a toll on potential homebuyers,” NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun said in a release. “Both mortgage rates and home prices have risen too sharply in a short span of time.” According to Freddie Mac, the average commitment rate for a 30-year, conventional, fixed-rate mortgage was 5.52% in June, up from 5.23% in May. The average commitment rate in 2021 was 2.96%.

The national inventory of unsold existing homes (a category that includes single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops) was 1.26 million by the end of June, which would take three months to sell at the current monthly sales pace.

Properties remained on the market 14 days on average in June, the fewest since the association began tracking this number in May 2011. Last month, 88% of homes sold were on the market less than a month.

“Finally, there are more homes on the market,” Yun added. “Interestingly though, the record-low pace of days on market implies a fuzzier picture on home prices. Homes priced right are selling very quickly, but homes priced too high are deterring prospective buyers.”

First-time buyers were responsible for 30% of sales last month, up from 27% in May and down from 31% in June 2021.

Individual investors or second-home buyers, who make up many cash sales, purchased 16% of homes in June.

“If consumer price inflation continues to rise, then mortgage rates will move higher,” Yun said. “Rates will stabilize only when signs of peak inflation appear. If inflation is contained, then mortgage rates may even decline somewhat.”

Paula Wolf is a freelance writer

New state program will fund home repairs

The 2022-2023 state budget just signed by Gov. Tom Wolf includes $125 million to fund a new program to pay for home repairs and other improvements for those with limited incomes.

Pennsylvania legislators and housing advocates praised the Whole-Home Repairs Program – believed to be the first of its kind in the country – as a step toward addressing the commonwealth’s housing affordability crisis.

The legislation to establish the initiative was proposed by Democratic Sen. Nikil Saval from Philadelphia but earned bipartisan support.

Saval, the Democratic chair of the Senate’s Urban Affairs and Housing Committee, introduced the legislation in the Senate with the full Democratic Caucus and five Republican senators as co-sponsors.

Homeowners with household incomes not exceeding 80% of area median income are eligible for grants up to $50,000 in the program. Forgivable loans for landlords who meet certain requirements are available as well.

The money can be used for habitability concerns, energy or water efficiency improvements, or accessibility for people with disabilities.

In addition, the $125 million covers staff to assist people in cutting through red tape, and pays for training to expand the skilled local workforce needed to make the improvements, through pre-apprenticeship and other programs.

The commonwealth has some of the oldest housing stock in the country.

“One out of every four Pennsylvania voters lives in a home that needs a critical repair, while one out of every three describes their utility bills as ‘unaffordable,’ ” a release from Saval’s office noted. “And if confronted with the need to make a critical repair to their home, nearly half of Pennsylvanians say they would struggle to afford it.”

With the Whole-Home Repairs Program the first of its kind in the nation, Saval hopes it becomes a model for other states in how to preserve aging housing stock while adding jobs.

“Every person has a right to a home that is safe – a home that is healthy,” he said in the release. “But right now, across our commonwealth, hundreds of thousands of households are denied this right simply because they don’t have access to the resources they need to repair their homes.”

Saval said the program starts to reverse the disinvestment urban, suburban and rural communities have experienced for decades at the hands of government.

“At this time of protracted hardship … we have a program to preserve housing across the commonwealth, to stabilize our communities, to prevent blight and abandonment and displacement, to build a skilled workforce to keep our state at the forefront of the industries of the future, and to protect the place that is most dear to all of us: home.”

Paula Wolf is a freelance writer

Two homes take top prize in Parade judging

The 2022 Parade of Homes Fulton Bank Award for Best Single Family Home was given to Copenhaver Builders, LLC for their home at 3925 Hill Church Road, Lebanon. PHOTO/PROVIDED

The 2022 Lancaster/Lebanon Parade of Homes, which features 18 single-family and semidetached/townhouse residences, announced its top award winners.

Sponsored by Fulton Bank and UGI Utilities and presented by the Building Association of Lancaster County, the event, showcasing the latest trends in new construction, is open to the public through June 26. Eleven builders have entered homes in the Parade, ranging from $350,000 to $985,000.

The Fulton Bank Award for Best Single-Family Home was given to Copenhaver Builders LLC for its 4,279-square-foot house at 3925 Hill Church Road, North Annville Township. The abode (price unpublished) includes four bedrooms, three full baths, three half baths, a three-car garage, and a first-floor owner’s suite with luxury bath.

Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology captured the Fulton Bank Award for Best Townhome/Semidetached for its three-bedroom house at 1906 Edington Place, Lancaster Township.

Listed at $350,000, it features engineered hardwood floors; an owner’s suite with studio vault and a large walk-in shower with heated floor; a finished basement with custom bar; a stone fireplace with reclaimed barn beam mantel; an open floor plan with reclaimed lumber beams; and a custom kitchen.

Paula Wolf is a freelance writer