Scranton, Lackawanna County, PA -
The Electric City continues to gain recognition for the affordability of its housing market.
Scranton was identified as the most affordable housing market in America this month, according to a report by Zillow. The city was previously ranked as the third-best place to work remotely in a realtor.com study released in November 2020, and the 10th most affordable area for retirees by AdvisorSmith in February 2021.
Zillow analyzed 100 of the largest housing markets in the United States by comparing the median household income and the monthly mortgage payment on a typically priced home.
The research assumed buyers were putting 20% down and taking out a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage and paying taxes and insurance.
In Scranton, with 20% down, the total monthly payment on a typical home is $1,232, while the monthly mortgage payment on a typical U.S. home is about $1,850, according to Zillow. The median home value for Scranton is $153,864 compared to the typical home value of $358,283 for the United States, per Zillow.
Scranton topped the list because the monthly mortgage payment only required 22% of the median household’s income, per the report.
Traditionally, 30% has been viewed as manageable and the current national average is 30.2%, according to the report.
Two other cities in Pennsylvania also made the list: Pittsburgh ranks sixth and Harrisburg seventh.
Wayne Evans, owner and broker of Wayne Evans Realty in Scranton, noted the city generally offers more affordable housing options than larger metro areas in the Northeast.
“Our housing costs, historically, have been much lower than a lot of areas nearby,” he said. “We saw an increase because of the hot real estate market, but I think that will stabilize. If you look at what they are anywhere within an hour or two of Scranton, we’re still way below New Jersey and Philadelphia, and possibly even the Lehigh Valley.”
Steve Farrell, owner and broker of Clarks Summit-based Classic Properties, added Scranton has been shielded from some of the exorbitant cost increases.
“We didn’t have the massive price run-up that a lot of suburban areas did in Long Island, Connecticut or Bucks County, so we’re still a very affordable place to relocate to and work remotely,” he said.
Evans added an increased number of available homes could lead to more people moving to the city.
“The days on the market have started to expand a little bit,” he said. “Houses are on a little bit longer which means our supply is starting to increase and that will lend itself to a slight shift to a more stable market.”
As of Thursday, there were 92 homes on the market in Scranton, Evans said. While that represents an increase from about six months ago when the number was in the 40s, he said there were usually more than 200 at a given time.
Bruce Reddock, director of economic development for the Greater Scranton Chamber of Commerce, believes the quality of life and various amenities offered in the city makes it an attractive spot for prospective homebuyers.
“You can be on a hiking trail, ski slope or golf course within 10 to 15 minutes of where you live and you can still have the big city feel in downtown Scranton,” he said. “It has everything, and I think people are starting to figure that out. You don’t have to live in a big city to get what the big cities offer.”