PITTSBURGH (TNS) – With their daughter Abby ready to graduate from college, Robinson’s Kevin and Cathy Glikes went out to buy a second home.

What they found for sale online was a comfortable three-bedroom, 2.5-bath condominium at Seven Springs Mountain Resort which Ms Glikes, 58, said she and her husband, 63, were quickly getting to. fell in love.

“When we saw our house, it was right at home,” said Ms. Glikes, a retired preschool teacher. “It’s a lovely getaway from the big city. It was just the right time.”

Now is the right time for many others to relocate to rural Pennsylvania, even Maryland, Virginia, Florida and Texas, according to a new report from the Center for Rural Pennsylvania. But with the move, there have been traffic jams on winding country roads and concerns about the speed of broadband, garbage collection and other municipal services that may be lacking in small towns.

The Center for Rural Pennsylvania, an advisory group to the General Assembly, found that the number of home sales and median home prices had skyrocketed in five rural Pennsylvania counties at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic – from March to December 2020 – compared to the same period in 2019.

The study looked at Monroe, Pike, Wayne, Susquehanna and Somerset counties, where the Glikes bought their condo about two months ago.

Along with an increasing number of property transfers, median house prices have skyrocketed.

In Somerset County, for example, the median price of homes before the pandemic was $ 49,000, according to the study, which was based on state taxes and records from county appraisers.

At the height of the pandemic, the median home price exploded 200% to $ 150,000. The actual selling prices were sometimes much higher: the Glikes, for example, paid $ 316,523 for their condo.

Most of the newcomers to Somerset County from out of state came from urban areas, where rates of COVID-19 were higher than in rural areas when the pandemic hit.

Wayne, Forest and Pike counties had the highest percentage increases in residential property transfers when comparing the March to December periods in 2019 and 2020, each registering an increase of over 40%.

Even Fayette County, which was not part of the study, saw an 11.6% increase in residential property sales between 2019 and 2020, despite a sharp increase in COVID-19 cases that nearly overwhelmed the city. Uniontown Hospital of WVU Medicine in December 2020.

Armstrong, Philadelphia and Washington counties saw the largest percentage decline in property transfers during this period, each with a drop of more than 19%.

“The people of the big cities want to escape,” said Patricia A. Peifer, recorder for Somerset County. The office collects a 2% real estate transfer tax which is distributed among the state, local municipalities and school districts. “Seven Springs, Hidden Valley, Indian Lake – we’ve seen a big increase.”

According to the study, businesses and schools closed due to COVID-19 have spurred the move in the country. But the influx of newcomers to rural areas has also raised concerns about the speed of broadband, garbage collection and other municipal services, according to State Senator Lisa Baker, a Republican from Luzerne County. .

“Business closures, job restructuring and health problems have caused more people to move,” she said at a press conference in Harrisburg on Wednesday when the report was released. “Traffic congestion – something we only saw during the seasonal summer months – is now becoming a concern all year round.”


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