The median price of houses in rural counties grew from $140,000 to $155,000, with higher-priced homes selling more quickly. (Center for Rural Pennsylvania, " Welcome to Rural Pennsylvania: COVID-19 and Residential Property Sales")

Home sales and prices in rural Pennsylvania have boomed since 2020, according to a new report from the Center for Rural Pennsylvania, raising concerns about the availability of affordable housing in smaller communities across the state.

Home sales increased 7% in rural counties since 2020, according to the report, while sales fell by 6% in urban counties.  

“So many properties have been sold relatively quickly after being put on the market,” said Kyle C. Kopko, director of the Center for Rural Pennsylvania. 

The median rural sale price climbed from $140,000 to $155,000, with higher-priced homes selling more quickly than lower-priced ones, according to the report. The rapid sales have raised concern about a shortage of housing in rural counties. 

The cyclical pattern of both urban and rural housing prices changed after the start of the pandemic, denoted by the vertical blue line. (Center for Rural Pennsylvania)

“If folks are looking to change their current type of housing, or they’re looking to move into the area, it’s challenging and will likely stay challenging for the foreseeable future,” said Kopko. 

Since the pandemic started, the center has heard anecdotal accounts from Pennsylvanians that more people have been moving to rural areas. This report is the first to provide evidence of this influx of rural residents. 

Whether the home sales will result in additional demand for services such as healthcare and education will depend on who is purchasing the houses, Kopko said. Retirees, young families, or professionals wanting a second home will each have different demands.

The answer to who these new residents are may come in the next six months. Data like school district enrollment and new driver’s license requests will help inform county and state officials on the type of residents who moved over the past year and a half. 

“State officials will use this data to determine whether or not there needs to be adjustments to regional planning within those growing counties,” said Kopko. 

“It’s too early to say how exactly this rural influx will affect these communities, but at least it is on folks’ radar to pay attention to now.”