Rural Pennsylvania Counties Saw Residential Property Sales Increase During COVID-19 Pandemic

Harrisburg, PA — Rural Pennsylvania counties experienced a housing boom during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to an analysis of statewide residential property transfer data by the Center for Rural Pennsylvania. From 2019 to 2020, there was a 7 percent increase in rural home sales, and a 6 percent decrease in urban home sales statewide.

“During the course of the pandemic, the Center was hearing anecdotal accounts of large influxes of new residents to rural Pennsylvania,” Sen. Gene Yaw, Center Board Chairman, said. “To find out if there were actual numbers behind these stories, the Center analyzed residential property transfer data and found that, for the most part, these accounts had merit.”

Yesterday at the State Capitol Building, Sen. Yaw was joined by Center Board Vice Chairman Rep. Eddie Day Pashinski, Center Board Member Rep. Dan Moul, Center Director Dr. Kyle C. Kopko, Sen. Lisa Baker, and Sen. Patrick Stefano to release the Center’s analysis of Pennsylvania residential property sales before and during the pandemic. The Center used data from the Pennsylvania State Tax Equalization Board (STEB) for the analysis and also used data from five county assessor’s offices to conduct more in-depth analyses of property transfers in Monroe, Pike, Wayne, Susquehanna, and Somerset counties.

“The Center’s analysis found that the trend in home sale increases was especially pronounced in rural counties in the northeast – Wayne, Pike, and Monroe counties,” said Dr. Kopko. “Many of the home buyers hailed from New York, New Jersey, and the Philadelphia region.”  

There was also evidence that these out-of-county buyers came from counties that had higher COVID rates than the rural communities in which they bought property.

“Because of the short study period of January 2020 to June 2021, it’s not clear whether the increase is a short-term trend fueled by the pandemic or just the latest chapter in a long-term housing boom,” Dr. Kopko said. “However, this report provides valuable information for local officials, and it is our hope that these research findings will help community leaders understand the extent of changes in the housing market to better serve their constituents.”


A copy of the report, Welcome to Rural PA: COVID-19 and Residential Property Sales, is available online at


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