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9 Things to Know About Buying a Home in Erie, PA

By Sarah Hordusky, REALTOR

Whether you're from out of town or a Gem City native, there are a few things you should know about buying a home in Erie, Pennsylvania. From its low cost of living and affordable housing prices to its family friendliness and entertainment options, there are a lot of reasons to live here. But, of course, a few challenges come with buying a home in Erie as well.

To give you a good idea of what to expect, I’m showcasing nine essential facts you should know about buying a home in this up-and-coming lakeside city and county.

  1. It’s More Affordable to Buy Than Rent

Let's do some fast math together. The average home price in Erie is $165,775. Now, suppose you opt for a 30-year mortgage, which is the most common mortgage term in the U.S. At the average home price point, even with the current interest rates (≈6.25 percent), you're looking at a monthly mortgage payment of $825-$1025.

Conversely, the average rent in Erie, PA, is between $945 and $1,717. Therefore you'll probably save between $120-$692 in monthly expenses. However, potential buyers need to also consider the "hidden" costs of buying a home, such as property tax, home insurance, and miscellaneous repairs.

  1. It’s a Smart Investment

Many people considering whether or not to buy a house in Erie aren't planning to make it their primary home. For those of you looking for a wise investment, you might just find it here.

Data from Mashvisor shows a particularly healthy cash-on-cash return for properties in Erie. If you're unfamiliar with the phrase, a cash-on-cash return is a rate of return investors use in real estate deals to calculate the cash income earned on cash invested.

In Erie, the average cash-on-cash return for traditional rentals and Airbnbs is 3.07 and 9.91 percent, respectively. Many investors are happy with anything of 3 percent, but even for the most discerning investors, a 9.91 percent cash-on-cash return is something to celebrate.

  1. Its Property Taxes are High

While you can find some incredible deals in Erie, the property taxes are pretty lofty. In fact, Erie County has one of the highest median property taxes in the U.S., ranked 430th of the 3143 counties in order of median property taxes. The average annual property tax paid by Erieites amounts to 3.64% of their yearly income.

  1. Its Cost of Living is Low

Property taxes aside, Erie’s cost of living is particularly affordable. From groceries and healthcare costs to utilities and transportation, just about every cost of living metric is below the national average—especially housing! Overall, Erie’s cost of living is 25.4 percent lower than the average city in the U.S.

  1. You’ll Experience all Four Seasons

Erie truly shines in the summer. If you’re into the outdoors, it’s got miles of sandy beaches, hiking trails, and scenic roadways. Probably the most prized attribute of Erie is Presque Isle State Park. It’s visited by over 5 million people every year. More commonly referred to as “the peninsula,” Presque Isle boasts all kinds of opportunities for outdoor adventure, including:

  • Boating
  • Eating
  • Fishing
  • Hiking
  • Kayaking
  • Live music

If you live for a city's nightlife, Erie's new bayfront bars and restaurants are constantly packed between June and August. From craft brews and high-end cocktails, it's a great place to be 21+. Plus, almost all of the bars and restaurants on the bay have live music in the summer months.

Spring and fall are picturesque in Erie, but certainly not swimming weather. Spring's crisp air is great for hiking and checking out indoor attractions (for example, the Tom Ridge Environmental Center, Erie Art Museum, and Presque Isle Downs & Casino) and chowing down at one of this city's amazing restaurants, like the Shoreline Bar and Grille, Mi Scuzi, and Pineapple Eddie’s Southern Bistro, to name a few.

Come fall, you should treat yourself to a long drive, enjoy the foliage, and check out one of the many Fallfests around Erie County. Afterward, cap off your evening with a glass of local wine at the Wine Country Harvest Festival in North East.

As a heads up, Erie's winters are exceptionally… white. Erie is currently ranked as the 3rd snowiest city in the U.S. Thankfully, there is still lots to do in the winter months. We're only 45 minutes from Peek'n Peak Resort, where you can snowboard and ski. We also have fantastic ice fishing and are home to one of the best indoor water parks in the U.S.

  1. It’s Going Through a Transformation 

Erie's urban core is going through a massive transformation. Thanks to a multi-million dollar investment from Erie Insurance, economic development tools like Opportunity Zones, Keystone Innovation Zones, and Hubzones, and the initiatives from a multitude of economic development groups such as the Erie Downtown Development Corporation (EDDC) and the Erie County Redevelopment Authority, the Gem City's downtown and greater county have never looked better. 

Couple those financial investments with Erie’s booming startup culture, and it’s clear this city is on the cusp of an industrial renaissance.

  1. It’s a “Hub”

There is a friendly small-town feel here. It's part of what gives Erie such an incredible sense of community. But suppose you have the itch for a big city event. In that case, you're only about 75-100 miles away from Buffalo, New York, Cleveland, Ohio, and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 

  1. It’s Family Friendly

Erie has a host of highly-regarded grade school options. And, when it comes to family-friendly entertainment, the possibilities are nearly endless. If the weather is nice, soak up some sun on Presque Isle State Park, quench your family’s need for speed at Waldameer Park & Water World, or explore Asbury Woods. If you need an activity in the cooler months, consider sloshing around at Splash Lagoon, get creative at ExpERIEnce Children's Museum, or get your game on at Play Port.

  1. It’s Home to a REALTOR You’ll Love

Buying a home is a big deal. It's essential to find a REALTOR who can give you the information you need to make the best home buying decision possible. Whether you're looking for niche neighborhood knowledge or in-depth marketing insights, there is an agent in Erie who can guide you through your entire home buying journey.

Reach out to Learn More

Sarah Hordusky is a mother, entrepreneur, and rising star at Marsha Marsh Real Estate Services. Born and raised in Erie, Pennsylvania, Sarah has deep insights into the city and county and has an eye for spotting all of the best deals. For buyers, her passion for Erie's flourishing community makes the house-hunting journey fun and exciting. If you would like to learn more about Sarah and start the home buying process with an agent you can trust, reach out today.