Investor ownership patterns

The core findings of investor behavior in the housing market in Greater Hazelwood are:

  • Most large investors in Greater Hazelwood have increased their purchasing of parcels within the last two years.
  • Investor activity in Greater Hazelwood is concentrated around areas of recent activity (Uber test track, Gladstone Middle School, Propel Elementary School)

The first finding was the result of parcel-level analysis using the Western PA Regional Data Center’s Property Sales Database from 2012 to early 2016. This inquiry suggests that the number of properties sold in Greater Hazelwood has steadily increased since 2012. Additionally, the number of investor-owned properties as also increased, although a slightly different rates. Note, for example, that 25 properties sold in the first quarter of 2016, 18 (72%) were purchased by investors. Investor-owned properties were identified in the aggregate housing data according to the methodology outlined in the WPRDC’s Property Assessment User Guide. Any government-sold properties that were sold through the tax foreclosure process were removed from the visualized data below.

Spatial distribution of investor activity

Given that research suggests that sales volume has increased since 2012, the team conducted a spatial analysis of where , exactly, in Greater Hazelwood the most properties have been bought and sold, including both investor-owned and owner-occupied. The heat map below shows property sales during the same 4-year time period as the bar chart above, from 2012 to early 2016.

Concerning the heat map below, note that

  • There is a “buzz” of activity that has been concentrated in the southwestern part of the neighborhood which is directly adjacent to the site where Uber announced it will be building its future test track.
  • Additionally, there has been a steady sales volume in the blocks surrounding the site of the former Gladstone Middle School. The school, vacant since 2001, was sold in November 2015 to a realty company representing a series of nonprofits who will be turning it into a center for low-income residents.
  • There is a flurry of activity in the southeastern part of the map, around where the Propel Hazelwood elementary school opened its doors in 2014.

Investor Behavior in Greater Hazelwood

After establishing where properties are being bought and sold in Greater Hazelwood, the analysis team investigated investor-owned properties only, using the WPRDC’s Property Assessment database, which provides information about every parcel of land in Allegheny County. While recent sales volume helps to identify areas that are attracting recent interest, an analysis of the parcels of land that are investor-owned can help to identify “holding” investors and especially the behavior of individual investors.

The upper righthand side of the graph below has a list of the top 12 individual investors in Greater Hazelwood. Common ownership was determined according to the methodology outlined in the WPRDC’s Property Assessment User Guide. When an individual investor is selected, the list of all properties will be filtered to just see the properties owned by that investor. The background coloring in the main map shows the income level by Census block group and the color of the points indicate the condition of that property, according to the Property Assessment database. Additionally, the lower righthand corner’s map allows the users to see a timelapse view of properties purchased by date of sale. This helps to distinguish long-term investors from those who have purchased many in a short period of time. Note that this analysis does not attempt to suggest that these investors are bad for the neighborhood; responsible investment in a neighborhood can yield significant benefits. These possible benefits are balanced by the potential warping of housing markets that can occur when many properties are owned by individuals who do not live on site or in the community impacted by the owner’s management practices.

In the case of Greater Hazelwood specifically, all of the top 12 investors are from Allegheny County and we don’t yet see a large influx of out-of-town investors buying up a large amount of property in Greater Hazelwood. However, it is interesting to understand the buying behaviors of those who are purchasing large numbers of parcels in Greater Hazelwood because their values and behaviors can have ripple effects throughout entire segments of this relatively small community.

Additionally, the team analyzed the Bureau of Permits, Licenses, and Inspections (PLI) Violations Database and the results are displayed in the table below. By selecting the name of the investor and then the “View data” button, the user can see the number of violations that have been found at the addresses owned by that investor. A few things to note is that the PLI Violations database only has data from October 2015 to date. Additionally, the violation is associated with the parcel, therefore there is a small chance that the investor was not in possession of the property when a violation was found.

By selecting the “Out of State” investors, the user can also see where out-of-state investors are located (Pennsylvania is excluded from this map). The top state is Florida, followed by New York and South Carolina.

This is a sub-page within the housing inquiry area. See housing home for more information or its other sub pages:trends in property rental and ownership and property price and volume changes through time.

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