First, see the Trib's coverage of some proprietary metrics on rental vacancy rates across regions and you see Pittsburgh comes in with a remarkably low rate of rental vacancy. Big news in itself. Lots going on there and what some of my real estate friends tell me is that the middle market for housing, which would include the quality rental housing market is doing quite well. A lot of that is unquestionably the fact that folks who in the recent past might have purchased real estate are finding it more practical to be renting.
But another reason has to be an artifact of how well the region has been doing relative to many other regions. Has to be some new people in the region impacting rental rates. In the past I explained the connection between regional economic conditions and migration into Pittsburgh. At the time, most of the regions we typically exchange population with were doing far worse than we were by most economic metrics. The only big exception at the time was the Washington, DC area. That may still be the case broadly speaking, but the Washington Post had a decent series of articles yesterday on the state of the regional economy down there. They do not paint a rosy picture for how DC is expected to fare as the recession continuees. You may need a (free) registration to read the articles but one of the main ones is here for those who are interested. But if DC is no longer the exception than nearly every region which is a major destination of Pittsburgh migrants is faring worse than we are and that will have bigger impacts on migration flows.