Why are the home prices so low in Johnstown, Pa.? Is there something wrong with the area?

Asked by Melissa, 07840 Sun Feb 3, 2008

My husband and I have the option to move there because of a job transfer and were looking at homes on the internet and were pleasantly surprised at the price, but think it's too good to be true......

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Mav, , 15902
Wed Mar 17, 2010
The job market is somewhat weak here.
1 vote
Barrylampel, Home Buyer, Greensburg, PA
Wed Mar 30, 2016

I am also looking, but to retire back in the Johnstown area. What I've found is Richland/Geistown/Windber area are supported by industry/commercial, while Johnstown is losing business to the suburbs, again Richland area. I'm told by contractors that new homes are at a premium cost and don't seem too interested in building medium priced residential, but focus more in commercial building/retirement.

Westmont seems to carry old money homes that are dated and falling into the hands of their offspring, and are typically selling for much less than in the Richland area. The reason I see is the double to triple tax base in Westmont school district. While an upscale home in Richland may sell for $300k and taxed at $3700., the same home in Westmont will carry close to $11,000 in taxes and sell in the neighborhood of $230k. Overall tax bases seem to range $1850 to $3700 in Richland area, while Westmont ranges from around $5000 to $12,000. And those opting for the least home price may soon realize the longer range impact in accumulated excess taxes over the years, or any necessary increase by Westmont associated with the need for future additional tax dollars.

The bottom line is Westmont offers a much wider variety and quantity of seemingly quality, although dated homes, over Richland (Which I've also seen as dated in part). This might pose the question on how you are set on finances to support the tax base. Don't lose sight of this.

Also, from my view Lower Geistown towards Johnstown has a very dated highway and infrastructure system. Sewage systems are requiring basements in some cases to be ripped up to inspect and correct any deficiencies to satisfy codes.

Again, just a point of view/findings from someone still looking over the past year (2015 - 2016).

Good luck
0 votes
Dudley, Both Buyer And Seller, Fairfax, VA
Wed May 13, 2009
Cost of living is very low due to a heavy emphasis on retirees living off saved moneys and not demanding the volume and type of services that 'normal' middle class families expect. The quality of life is pretty good and the spring/summer/fall seasons are (nearly) wonderful. Winter, as any resident will tell you is the 'pits'. Housing stock is varied with emphasis on that built in the 1920's-30's and then in the 1960's-70's. Turnover is relatively low. My family lived here in the 1980's and it was wonderful to raise a family. Job moves kept us away until now. We live today in Fairfax, VA and when selling our home there, the net proceeds will allow us to pay cash for a very nice home in J'twn. I too am from Maine and would add to the prior comment that taxes (property and income) in PA are much more civilized (lower) than my beautiful Maine. (sob!!)
0 votes
Hi. I'm from Arlington, VA now living north of Baltimore and I regularly look for housing investment opportunities. I can't believe how low the housing prices are in Johnstown. There is a house for sale for $13,000 that doesn't look half bad. It's a fixer and that's what I'm looking to do since I can do most of the work myself, but with housing prices so low, I wonder if rehabbing and renting it out might make more sense than flipping. By the way, my dad is from the Topsham Maine area (Pejepscot to be exact) and I have the fondest memories of summering there every year. Went there for my grandmother's funeral in January though and it was a kind of bone chilling cold that to this day I can't forget. Yikes! Regards. Chris.
Flag Wed Dec 18, 2013
Melissa, Home Buyer, East Baldwin, ME
Tue Mar 4, 2008
Melissa, my name is also Melissa and my family and I are also looking to move there also but for a little different reasons than you. we have done a lot of research and just visited Johnstown this past weekend. we found out the reason why prices are so low is because Johnstown is still in a resession from 15 years ago when the steal industy died. the city lost a lot of citizens due to this and also lost the tax income from the steel buisenesses. also i would imagine that the many floods have had a damper on it also. We are looking to buy a duplex for under $30,000 and move there also with my mother and stepfather. some houses we looked at need a lot of work and some are in good move in condition. you can definatly find an extremelly nice single family for between $19,000 and $50,000. of course you can also find $600,000 houses in the Richlands area too, But were i live in Maine the $600,000 houses up here aren't half of what they are in Johnstown. hope this helps you. P.S. The recession is a good thing for us but will hopefully revitalize the town when others move there due to the low prices.
0 votes
Carol Andres…, , Pittsburgh, PA
Sun Feb 3, 2008
Hi Melissa,

The closest major city would be Pittsburgh, with Pittsburgh International Airport being the closet major airport, 2 hours away. Housing prices in Western PA are drastically lower when compared to many places in NJ.
0 votes
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