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


Designer Homes Come to State College – High End House Flipping and Ultra Modern Spaces are the Next Big Thing in Happy Valley

6 210 Seneca
210 Seneca Circle, State College, PA 16801

Chic, waterfall edge, quartz countertop islands; lighting, curated and imported from Europe – the stuff of real estate commonplace in metropolitan New York, Los Angeles and Miami is starting to resonate with high end home buyers in Happy Valley.

Real estate investors and developers, Josh and Lizzie Parra of Parra Design Build, are spearheading the sleek design movement in Centre County.  Investing in projects to renovate and put their exclusive stamp – Josh and Lizzie employ the latest in innovative design concepts and luxury finishes for properties in need of an update within the area,.

With all cash offers, buyers from major cities and foreign investment becoming prevalent in State College, so to is the need for a more modern and sophisticated home inventory.  “We can bring the city design to State College…”, stated by Lizzie Parra in a recent interview*; exemplified in their most recent undertaking in the Dalevue/Centre Hills neighborhood of State College, 210 Seneca Circle,

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210 Seneca Circle – $599,000.00

210 Seneca Circle, State College, PA

Bigger builders are taking note as well – including one in the area that made custom requests and concessions for a metropolitan buyer’s newly constructed home within State College.  The finishes and fixtures chosen were a deviation from their traditional selections and more contemporary.

A newer neighborhood, Rockey Ridge, is devoted to the enterprise of modern architecture.  Contemporary style construction can be seen lined along Linden Hall Road in Boalsburg.  These homes are selling like hot cakes around the $600k price point – further emphasizing the demand for the current trend.

The State College buyer is becoming more discerning, catching on to the latest interior fashions, including opting for quartz countertops over the formerly popular choice of granite.  Traditional colonial and craftsman style homes remain the most popular in the area, however, the market dictates an undeniable need for properties with an edge.

Notable Links 

Parra Design Build

*Interview link

https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2FHelpMeBA%2Fvideos%2F1981827861868804%2F&show_text=1&width=560“>Interview with Parra Design Build

210 Seneca Circle Listing Information

Schedule a Private Tour – (814) 470-0060

Open House Schedule

Saturday – June 16th 12pm-2pm
Sunday – June 17th 2pm-4pm


The Five Most Expensive Addresses in State College

Lamborghinis parked on College Avenue, new high rise buildings erected on $7,000,000.00 quarter acre lots in Downtown State College and Penn State Football.  There’s no question that there’s money here in Happy Valley.  Foreign and local investors alike see the value in a town with an evergreen opportunity at Penn State, further pushing prices higher.  This has trickled down to the residential market in State College.

Here are the top five most expensive addresses in State College.*

5. Brandywine Drive


Average Sale Price – $700k-$850k**

4. Greenbriar Drive


Average Sale Price – $725k-$925k

3. Park Avenue West


Average Sale Price – $800k-$1M

2. Holly Ridge Drive


Average Sale Price – $800k-$950k

1. Scenery Drive


Average Sale Price – $800k-$1.5M

*”…most expensive addresses in State College” is merely for entertainment purposes.
**Results were derived from closed properties listed on the Centre County Multiple Listing Service.

Medical Marijuana Dispensary Comes to State College

Cheech & Chong.  Funyuns.  A new Netflix series called, “Disjointed”.

Stigmas and prejudice cloud the medical marijuana industry with exaggerated, stoned caricatures, late night munchie runs for Spam and Cheese Ramen (it’s a real thing, https://munchies.vice.com/en_us/article/qkqjnw/the-ultimate-munchies-menu-of-stoner-snacks) and hip hop artists writing odes to “smoking broccoli”.

The reality is a 10 year old girl named Antania* suffering with debilitating grand mall seizures, diagnosed with a rare epileptic disorder – Dravet syndrome.  After trying 20 FDA approved medicines with no positive response, it came down to medical cannabis oil that would allow this little girl to live like a normal little girl.

There are thousands of heartbreaking yet hopeful stories similar to Antania’s.  The optimism lies in the medicinal qualities of cannabis.

Medical Marijuana in the Commonwealth…and State College

The Pennsylvania Department of Health signed the state’s Medical Marijuana Program into law on April 17, 2016.  According to the Pennsylvania Department of Health’s website, the implementation of this program is expected to be operational within 18 to 24 months of the program’s launch.

On June 29, 2017, 27 dispensary permits were awarded throughout the commonwealth.  One of  these aforementioned permits will take effect locally in State College, PA.

PA Health & Wellness, LLC, our local dispensary agglomerate, are a group seasoned in the medical marijuana industry.  Much like any medical or dental office, the dispensary will have the accouterments of a doctor’s facility, with the exception of added security measures.

Pennsylvania residents will be able to participate in the Medical Marijuana Program only by diagnosis of one of the following 17 “serious medical conditions”,

  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis
  • Autism
  • Cancer
  • Crohn’s Disease
  • Damage to the nervous tissue of the spinal cord with objective neurological indication of intractable spasticity
  • Epilepsy
  • Glaucoma
  • HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) / AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome)
  • Huntington’s Disease
  • Inflammatory Bowel Disease
  • Intractable Seizures
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Neuropathies
  • Parkinson’s Disease
  • Post-traumatic Stress Disorder
  • Severe chronic or intractable pain of neuropathic origin or severe chronic or intractable pain in which conventional therapeutic intervention and opiate therapy is contraindicated or ineffective
  • Sickle Cell Anemia

Once a physician has certified the diagnosis, the patient will apply for a medical marijuana ID card and obtain medical marijuana from an approved dispensary location.

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Details on How to Participate in the State’s Medical Marijuana Program are Outlined on their Website, health.pa.gov

Medical marijuana will be in the form of pill and oil to start in Pennsylvania and the availability to patients will be in 2018. 

Advocacy in Centre County

As PA Health & Wellness, LLC commence a remodel and noticeable repainting of their proposed joint on 2105 North Atherton Street, local “Cannavangelist” Sher Simcisko has been actively advocating for the medicinal use of marijuana in Pennsylvania.  I’ve been in favor of legalization for a long time, gone to rallies and such but started advocating intensively early in 2015”.  Sher is affiliated with PA Safe Access which Sher states, “…grew out of a need to fight for PA patients and to provide them with the information they will need to navigate the law and the process of becoming a PA medical marijuana patient”.

PA Safe Access, “…grew out of a need to fight for PA patients and to provide them with the information they will need to navigate the law and the process of becoming a PA medical marijuana patient” shares Simcisko

Misconceptions about Medical Mary Jane

Misinterpretations come twofold with the medicinal use of marijuana.  “A big misconception is that it’s only helpful for a few specific problems”, says Simcisko, “One of the conditions we weren’t able to get included (in the serious medical condition list deemed by the PA Department of Health) was addiction and mental health issues…that could have helped so many people”.  Simcisko goes on to say that continued use of medical marijuana has been correlated to prevent certain diseases and slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease and cancers.

Cannabis is Therapeutic to A Myriad of Conditions, “One of the conditions we weren’t able to get included was addiction and mental health issues…that could have helped so many people” Stated Simcisko

The other obvious debasement is the believe that marijuana is a “gateway” drug affiliated with lung cancer, DUI deaths and violent crime, to which Simcisko retorts, “In fact, DUI deaths and violent crimes have decreased, most likely due to the fact that the use of alcohol decreased”.

For Sher, it’s about keeping the community apprised of the miraculous stories and statistical connection of healing for multitudes of people, “The best thing people can do is be informed”.

Indeed, researching the curative characteristics of cannabis have been a challenge for the FDA with red tape and the legal restrictions of the drug.  The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine published a report considering current cases, weighing both the therapeutic effect and harmful reactions alike**.

Regardless of where you stand on the thought of curative cannabis, the drug will be regulated and dispensed in accordance with the Pennsylvania Department of Health in State College.  A plume of preconceptions, legalities and the definition of a pharmaceutical surround medical marijuana…however, the healing is evident.  State College is a place of innovation, research and new ideas – it would seem a perfect location for a holistic approach to medicine. 


Stories of Healing




PA Safe Access / Local Information and Advocacy


Pennsylvania Department of Health Medical Marijuana Program


Do you live in a state where medical marijuana isn’t legalized?  Do you suffer from one of the 17 serious conditions as specified by the PA Department of Health?  Please contact me about relocating to beautiful Centre County Pennsylvania, our wonderful hospital and medical facilities and advocacy programs.

Radon & Central Pennsylvania – What You Need to Know

“Home inspection; elected. Pest inspection; elected. Radon inspection…hey Sarah, should we elect or waive to complete a radon inspection?” My eyes grow quarter sized from across the Keller Williams conference room table of my eagerly excited clients, writing an offer on their first home. Before I answer, here are the facts that every home buyer in Central Pennsylvania should consider before purchasing a home in Happy Valley with regard to radon.


What the Heck is Radon?

Radioactive, atomic number 86, radon is an odorless and tasteless noble gas.  According to the EPA, radon is attributed to the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States, only second to smoking.

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Page 7, Section 12 Buyer’s Due Diligence/Inspections (9-16), Lines 337-347 regarding radon in the Pennsylvania Association of Realtors ASR form.  Standard Agreement of Sale of Real Estate used to negotiate the terms of a residential home purchase in the state of Pennsylvania.

Originating from a natural decomposition of uranium and radium in the ground, radon can penetrate a structure (your potential abode), through cracks and any apertures in the foundation.

Testing for Radon

4.0 picoCuries/liter constitutes an elevated level of radon exposure within a dwelling.  During your inspection contingency period, on the road from contract to closing day, a radon test will be set by a person certified by the Department of Environmental Protection (more than likely your selected home inspector or a company that specializes in mold and radon).

The test is typically appointed in the basement (if applicable) and collected within a minimum of 48 hours to ensure a proper reading.  During this 48 hours, all windows and doors remain closed.

Radon in Centre County

Centre County is located within EPA Radon Zone 1, a county “with predicted average indoor radon screening levels greater than 4 pCi/L”.  That being said, I’ve witnessed readings registering from 0.02 all the way to 150.00 pCi/L!  As my Penn State Psych 002 professor once said, “Correlation does not mean causation”…however, I see a strong correlation between Victorian homes in Bellefonte and higher registered radon readings.  Factually, radon can register above 4 pCi/L just about anywhere in Centre County, but it shouldn’t be cause for concern in moving forward in the acquisition of a home.  Radon can be remedied.

Radon Mitigation Systems and Cost in Central PA

So your home registered over 4 pCi/L; what happens now?  Your radon professional will make a determination on the most efficient system based on the layout of the home and the severity of the reading.  Homes registering just over 4-10 picoCuries will typically require a simple fan mitigation.   In my experience, homes logging in over 10 picoCuries may deem additional piping and fans to ward off elevated levels of the element.  The most extreme mitigation arrangement I’ve encountered was a two-story, Victorian with a 150 picoCurie radon reading.  This home required two industrial sized pipes, running the entirety of the basement with two fans to accomplish a score under 4.

Radon Test provided by Enviro Management

Fans.  Piping.  Radioactive Gas.  Cancer.  “Sarah, you’re starting to scare me, how much is this going to cost?”.

Before you panic, radon is another element (pun intended), that you can negotiate in your offer for a home.  Most everything is negotiable in the state of Pennsylvania, however, it is customary (in my experience selling real estate within Centre County) to negotiate that the buyer and seller split the cost of the radon mitigation system, if necessary.

The average cost, dependent on the system your new domicile will call for, within Centre County Pennsylvania range from $400.00-$1450.00*.

Knowing the facts, it’s up to the consumer as to whether you should elect to have the radon levels tested or waive your opportunity.  Always consult with your realtor in making this decision, review the statistics and speak with a local professional.  A recommended, community resource pertaining to radon is Jim Stein at Enviro Management.

Additional Resources:

EPA Radon Guide

*Based on current pricing from local radon professionals and the average pricing spectrum I’ve encountered in my professional experience.  Prices may vary contingent on your new home and radon reading.



“What’s the Code to the Wi-fi Again?” — Neighborhood Guide to High Speed Internet Service in State College

What’s more frustrating than trying to send that important email for work or, more likely, stream the latest Katy Perry video on YouTube…and the error, “Your message cannot be sent” or “Buffering” scrolls across your screen denying you of instant technological gratification.  No $1 million dollar deal closed in an email, no Katy Perry cooking herself in a giant cauldron of chicken soup.  Phooey…(or whatever Phhff expletive you’d like to insert into your wi-fi nightmare).

I met a gentlemen recently who had a bone to pick with realtors in Central Pennsylvania.  “I really wish one of you would incorporate wi-fi and high-speed internet access into your presentations”.

Being a ‘Type A’ neurotic that aims to please, I said, “On it!”.


Top Three Best Neighborhoods for High-Speed Internet Access in State College 

State College Borough

Including Nittany, Fairmount, Prospect and Hamilton Avenues.  High speed internet access is very strong in the downtown core area.  Average approximate price point* – $250,000+

The Landings

An S&A neighborhood with bird streets, Falconpointe Drive, Hawknest, Raven Hollow and Quail Run Roads.  Two story and ranch style floor plans available.  Average approximate price point – $250,000 – $327,000

Hunters Chase & Foxpointe

Another two neighboring neighborhoods brought to you again by S&A Homes.  Note that signal strengths are highest along Autumnwood and Saratoga Drives.  Traditional two-story and ranch floor plans available.  Average approximate price point – $300,000+


Some areas of State College are lacking for high-speed internet service.  If you’re a Netflix junkie or simply a workaholic, you may want to consider the aforementioned areas in your home search when moving to Happy Valley.

Information derived from client testimonials on internet speed and sensorly.com.

*Average price point based on homes that have closed in the past year, 5/18/16-5/18/17, 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms.

Hottest Places to Invest at Penn State — Beyond State College

The average cap rate, if you’re lucky, in most of State College is between 5-7%. With shiny new student high rise buildings creating a competitive downtown market, some investors are getting savvy by investing in the surrounding area and yielding a more appealing return.

Here are the current, hottest areas to invest outside of State College. The following areas are also worth-while for flipping properties.


With a charming historic district and plans for a microbrewery coming to the old Gamble Mill, Bellefonte has a lot to offer…including a short commute to State College.

Cap rate average: 10-13%


Philipsburg is a diamond in the rough in the sense that you can buy real estate cheaply there (for now). There is also a committee dedicated to the revitalization of the town and industry in the future is promising to the area.

Cap Rate Average: 13-15%

Pleasant Gap

Another town with a fast commute to State College, Pleasant Gap offers low taxes and is a trendy choice for renters and first time home buyers.

Cap Rate Average: 9-12%


Rolling farmland, the Amish and Revival Kitchen farm to table restaurant, Reedsville has been a popular alternative to the Lewistown area for renters.

Cap Rate Average: 10%

A cap rate can be strategically achieved with a realtor who is a skilled negotiator, deciding what expenses you’ll delegate to a tenant and pinning down your NOI (a.k.a. Real Estate Investment 101). Currently a seller’s market in State College with residential property averaging a 97.5% list to purchase price and commercial property 95% list to purchase price, there is an opportunity to achieve a 10% cap or higher in Central Pennsylvania’s metropolis if you get creative in negotiating an offer. For example, I have a client who purchased a residential rental property for $156,000 IN STATE COLLEGE and they do very well with a steady 10% cap (…and they didn’t need to update or renovate the home!).

When it comes to a ‘Property Brothers’ style overhaul to flip your investment for a profit, you’ll be wise to buy up surrounding areas to dear old State. I’ve seen a trend among some first time home buyers who may not be able to afford the 16803 price tag and taxes — a lot of them are moving with 20-30 minute commutes, some selecting properties even further to get a little more for their hard earned money. My advice to flippers, walk through with a realtor, stager and home inspector prior to completing any work. A realtor will tell you where your money is best spent within your targeted budget to achieve the highest possible return (such as adding a half bathroom to a home that only has one main bathroom). A stager/interior designer will recommend the latest paint colors, fixtures and flooring. Lastly, completing a home inspection prior to any renovations will provide a checklist of repair items. Once corrected, showing a potential buyer that you’ve identified the problems with your rehab and fixed them can put a buyer of your project at ease. They’ll know that they’re purchasing a quality home by eliminating their objections from the get go (which means more money in your pocket just for completing a $280 home inspection).

Central Pennsylvania is rife with investment potential. It’s all about negotiating the right price, staying on budget and planning your expenses. With these basic principles in mind, you can create a profitable portfolio in Happy Valley.