When the Team Does Well, We All Do Well – How Penn State Athletics Drives the Real Estate Market in Happy Valley


In the midst of flourishing farms, picturesque Mount Nittany and industrious Sheetz Gas Stations, (which seem to be on every corner), stands the economical behemoth of Central Pennsylvania.  “What brings you to the area?”  The overwhelming response to this question is the Pennsylvania State University –  “I was hired by the university”, “I went to school here and love the area”, “I married into this”.  It’s no secret that the university is the driving force of Happy Valley’s economy and the housing market is no exception.

The cash cow of Penn State lies with the athletic department — In 2017, athletics generated a net revenue of $144,017,055 and after expenses made a profit of $5.3 million*.  Among the other top employers in State College include, Mount Nittany Medical Center, State College Area School District and Glenn O. Hawbaker Inc., to name a few*.

Not all of the industry in Happy Valley inspire the masses as much as a win from the Penn State Football Team over Ohio State.  The palpable energy, excitement and anticipation from the approaching Ohio State game this weekend (plus the slew of inquiries from real estate investors traveling into town for the game) made me posit the question, is there a correlation between Penn State wins and real estate sales?

A perfect example was Penn State’s win over Ohio in 2016.  The enthusiasm of the icy, rain soaked Saturday night game win carried into Sunday morning to a packed open house I hosted.  All the potential buyers walking through the charming victorian home in Bellefonte were in the best spirits I’ve experienced at an open house and the home ended up selling at that open…you better believe I was blasting “Sweet Caroline” and “Zombie Nation” on repeat that day.



Although it certainly inspires and lifts the spirits of a community that bleeds blue and white, I found that State College real estate sales are pretty evergreen, regardless of how well our athletic teams are performing.

In going back 10 years, I pulled closed real estate sales for single family homes in State College, PA* between 2007-2017.  There are two noticeable dips in real estate transactions, the first was the market crash of 2008, down in sales $48 million from the year prior, and during the time of the Sandusky scandal, down in sales $25 million from the year prior.  With only the two aforementioned decline in sales, every year stays relatively stable or the numbers continue to grow – with the past four years having the biggest jump in sales*.

We can all agree, Penn State is the largest and number one employer in the area and State College, as a town, is developing at a rapid pace.  Downtown high rises, more hotels and a casino are only the beginning of what is to come to the home of the Nittany Lions.

As long as the university is in business and the community continues to grow, the economy in State College (and the surrounding areas) will remain robust.  It certainly doesn’t hurt to have a W against the Buckeyes in the process.



*Data of single family homes within State College Area School District closed within the years 2007-2017 from navicamls.net, Centre County Association of Realtors.
*Photography by Steve Tressler, http://www.vistaprostudios.com


*The last four years of closed, single family homes within the State College Area School District,

2017 – $361,305,195.00
2016 – $370,466,440.00
2015 – $347,591,181.00
2014 – $302,445,387.00


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