by Sylvia Blair
Nancy and John Bradfield moved from Carroll County in Maryland to Hanover about 1½ years ago. When they relocated, they were looking to downsize and simplify their living space.
Today, the couple couldn’t be happier with their new home. Upkeep on their property is less time-consuming than it was at their previous residence. What’s more, the new construction means they don’t have to worry about modernizing the structure.
Although the Bradfields expect that their new home might be their home in retirement, they have noticed that life has not slowed down as a result of their relocation to a smaller community. They always have something to do or somewhere to be in their active lives.
They say they chose Hanover partly because of its value for the dollar, its proximity to shopping, and its recreational offerings. “We were also attracted to the quality of life in Hanover,” said Nancy. “It is convenient and we can get to wherever we need to go in a short drive. The residents here are so friendly and helpful. I am impressed with the support for new residents in the area.”
The Bradfields are part of a growing number of people who are choosing to call Hanover home. The area has a growing reputation for affordability and convenience, and is known for promoting a positive lifestyle.
Hanover Borough manager Michael Bowersox has noticed that over the past 20 years or so, the demographics of the town have changed considerably from what they were when he was growing up in the area. “There is presently a larger population of home buyers who have not grown up in Hanover. The pride in the community is evident among new residents, who often live alongside long-time residents,” he said.
Cost of Living
When comparing the cost of living in residential locations throughout the region, prospective buyers can turn to an online cost-of-living calculator such as bankrate.com, a consumer financial services company. The site offers information about personal finance and publishes financial comparisons.
The website’s cost-of-living calculator provides comparisons of the cost of living in many cities and calculates the equivalent income needed to maintain a current standard of living in a new place. For example, a resident of the Baltimore metro area who makes $50,000 a year would need to earn about $44,800 to maintain their current lifestyle in the York-Hanover area. If that person relocated from the Philadelphia area, they would need about $42,300 to achieve the same end.
Buying Homes in Hanover
Marc Fisher, of the Marc Fisher Group of Long & Foster Real Estate, provides residential real estate services to both buyers and sellers in Maryland and Pennsylvania. Fisher says that a primary draw of the Hanover area is simply the location. Getting “more house for the money” while enjoying the amenities Hanover offers means that relocation — even it mean a longer commute — is acceptable. Fisher also said that many senior citizens move to Pennsylvania in retirement because of the tax benefits the state offers.
The buyers Fisher works with come from a wide range of socioeconomic backgrounds. “I see younger folks looking for a single-family home in Pennsylvania versus a Maryland town home, for example,” he said. “There are also people coming from other geographical areas to Hanover to upsize. There are new single-family home communities in the surrounding region that are attracting either buyers from Maryland or current Pennsylvania residents who want to upsize.
“Over the past year or so, I have also worked with a family who moved from California. They wanted a single-family home close to the Maryland line due to affordability. They work in Maryland. Another couple is moving from the Philadelphia area to be closer to family in Virginia, but they want to stay in Pennsylvania due to the home prices and retirement tax advantages there.”
Ray Hoover is a real estate agent with RE/MAX Quality Service and has served on the board of directors of the Realtors Association of York & Adams Counties (RAYAC). He agrees that owners of entry-level homes may consider upsizing to a larger home in Hanover because it can be more affordable. While buying existing homes to fix them up appeals to some buyers, Hoover said that builders are starting to see an uptick in the sales of construction throughout the surrounding region. Buyers tell Hoover that they like the small-town environment combined with city conveniences, which makes it desirable to a variety of buyers.
Selling Homes in Hanover
A snapshot of the housing market in Hanover shows that in the Hanover public school district, 181 homes sold in 2016 for $23.46 million according to the RAYAC 2016 York County Real Estate Market Report. The 2016 sales volume decreased by 5 percent from 2015, a year in which 190 homes were sold in the school district.
Fisher said the home inventory in ZIP code 17331 includes over 260 homes. Of those homes, 152 were priced under $200,000; 17 were over $400,000; and 97 were listed between $200,000 and $400,000.
An additional 69 homes were priced under $150,000. This compares to 22 homes under $150,000 that were listed in Carroll County. Fisher said the home inventory in the Hanover area is currently at a low, creating a sellers’ market. And low inventory — with consequent high demand — leads to higher prices.
Business, the Economy and Housing in Hanover
When choosing a place to live, many homebuyers consider the local business climate. While many Hanover residents commute out of the area to work, Hanover is home to a many employers. According to the York County Economic Alliance, York County has a healthy business climate. York has over 40 business and industrial parks, numerous stand-alone facilities and planned development. As a result, York County businesses can compete for innovative and skilled employees, according to the YCEA.
And the homes themselves help drive that trend. According to the RAYAC 2016 York County Real Estate Market Report, “Housing continues to be a significant economic sector within the community. It is the source of direct employment for a variety of trades and professions such as construction, finance and insurance.”
The National Association of Realtors studied the economic impact of real estate activity state by state. According to the 2016 NAR report, when a home is sold in Pennsylvania, the sale generates $15,957 in further economic activity. Additional expenditures on consumer items such as furniture, appliances and remodeling are $4,572 per home, according to the report.
In the estimation of many homeowners, employers and realtors, the relatively low cost of living, the easy access to larger communities, the educational and recreational offerings and the stable community make Hanover a place that is gaining attention from buyers.
“I can speak to Hanover as a wonderful place to live,” said Justine Kilkelly Trucksess, manager of Main Street Hanover. “Our area has amazing school districts that are rated as some of the best in the region. Hanover is within hours of all of the major metropolitan areas on the East Coast, which allows for accessibility and comfort. Jobs are steady here, with a very low unemployment rate, so this makes our workforce market very attractive.”
Affordable Housing for Limited Incomes
For individuals who dream to live in a house as a homeowner or a renter, the cost may be out of reach due to limited income. Affordable housing in developments made available through federal or state funding sources can be found throughout York County and in Hanover Borough. Chief of Housing Dory Brannon, who works at the York County Planning Commission, answers questions in this Q & A interview about funding, housing availability and criteria for individuals and families in need of assistance.
What kind of housing is available to individuals or families with limited incomes? Several types of federal and state sources fund the development or rehabilitation of affordable housing in the Hanover area, which may limit the amount residents may pay for their housing and makes housing more affordable to them. The majority of affordable housing developments have utilized Low Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC), HOME Investment Program funds, the Housing and Urban Development subsidy program or other financing. Such funding is used for affordable rental units and homeownership opportunities. With this financing, there are income and rent restrictions on the property. Individuals/families whose incomes fall at or below various percentages of the area median income level may qualify. For example, an LIHTC- funded project requires that participants have income eligibility of 60 percent of the area median income level. The HOME Investment Program funds allow eligibility of up to 80 percent of the area median income level.
Specifically, what affordable housing is available in Hanover?
There are affordable housing options throughout York County. Specifically, Hanover Borough currently has seven affordable rental-housing communities with a combined total of 173 units. Four of the communities offer housing options for seniors. The additional three communities do not have age restrictions.
What are the criteria and application process?
In the communities that are funded with the above-mentioned federal or state dollars, the applicant(s) would need to be qualified by meeting income eligibility requirements based on restrictions set for that specific housing community. Applications are generally accepted and applicants are put on a waiting list. A waiting list is common for an affordable housing community.
Is more affordable housing needed in Hanover and what is planned for the future? Based on the waiting lists for the existing communities and the fact that, unfortunately, Hanover has lost several affordable housing rental units over the past several years, there is a definite need for both rental and homeownership opportunities for those at or below 80 percent of the area median income level. York County is providing HOME program funding to a local Community Housing Development Organization (CHDO), the York Area Development Corporation. They will develop in the future four townhouses located on Baltimore Street in Hanover. They will provide affordable homeownership opportunities to individuals and families at or below 80 percent of the area median income level.
For more information, contact Chief of Housing Dory Brannon at firstname.lastname@example.org