Friday, February 1, 2008

York County has more housing starts than any other county in Pennsylvania. Home buyers have invested in this Susquehanna Valley location, about 87 miles from the District, where they can get more home for the money than in areas closer to the Beltway.

Attractions such as Hershey’s Chocolate World and the Gettysburg National Military Park in neighboring Adams County draw visitors to Southern Pennsylvania. York County and its namesake county seat are a convenient central location for getaways.

York County borders Maryland on the Mason-Dixon Line. Its Eastern border is the Susquehanna River. Even though York is the second fastest growing county in Pennsylvania, real estate insiders say the cost of living is still well below many surrounding counties and nearby metropolitan areas.

U.S. 15 on the eastern part of the county connects Harrisburg and central Pennsylvania with Frederick and Washington. The Pennsylvania Turnpike on the northern portion of the county provides access to Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.

York County is in the middle of the fast-growing south-central section of Pennsylvania. Steve Snell, executive officer with the Realtors Association of York and Adams Counties, says its proximity to neighboring Maryland has drawn many to find a new home and new lifestyle across the state line.

“Although some of that growth has come from other areas of the state that are not as strong economically, most of it was fueled by Marylanders who were seeking more affordable housing options,” Mr. Snell says. The county’s median home price has consistently been $100,000 less than bordering Maryland counties, he says.

However, the gap is closing and the migration from Maryland has slowed some, says Stephen Brillhart, office manager of Long & Foster in York. He says one factor is higher gas prices, which forces home buyers to look for shorter commutes.

“The Maryland side of the county grew quickly from the 1990s to early 2007,” Mr. Brillhart says.

The county recently built a new high school to accommodate growth.

In addition to abundant parcels of land available for buyers looking to build from scratch, the county features a wide selection of housing options, from old farmhouses to 19th-century Victorian mansions to charming row homes, new condominiums and single-family home communities.

“Homes in the price range of $150,000 to $250,000 are most common in York County,” Mr. Brillhart says, adding that anything over $300,000 is considered upscale and will sit on the market a little longer.

Recent growth has been fairly well-distributed throughout the county, Mr. Snell says.

“For years, most growth occurred in the towns closest to Maryland, like New Freedom, Shrewsbury, and Stewartstown,” Mr. Snell says. “As land prices in those areas rose, growth moved out into other areas, too. In sort of a ripple effect, places like Spring Grove and Mount Wolf have seen more growth in 2007 than they ever had.”

Builders are meeting customer demand and are building new home subdivisions of all sizes throughout the county.

Salem Run is a new town-home community in Dover built by Lennar Corp. ( Homes are priced from $152,900 to $159,000 and come with one-car garages. The three-bedroom, 2½-bath model named the Abbey features 1633 square feet of living space, including 9-foot first-floor ceilings, a spacious eat-in kitchen and finished recreational room.

Gemcraft Homes (www. is also building three-bedroom, garage town homes that start in the $190,000s. The community of Biscayne Woods is next to a Dallastown golf country club and has shopping nearby. Features include Maytag appliances, a large kitchen pantry, textured ceilings and Merillat oak kitchen and bath cabinets.

Single-family homes from the $200,000s are selling in Dover’s Green Ridge community. Several floor plans by Richmond American Homes Inc. (www.richmond range from $259,990 at 2,000 square feet to $289,990 for 2,700 square feet. One of the floor plans, the Princeton III, comes with a rear library and five bedrooms on the second floor, including a sumptuous master suite.

Landmark Builders Inc. ( has homes under construction on a knoll surrounded by scenic farms and farmland just west of the city of York. The community of Jackson Heights is 10 minutes from Interstate 83 and offers single-family homes starting from $228,000. The neighborhood of ranch and two-story Colonials will have 108 houses, once completed.

Several builders feature new homes at Logan’s Reserve ( in southern York County, an amenity-rich community with a clubhouse and panoramic country views. Home buyers will find soccer fields, a baseball diamond, tennis courts and miles of nature trails. There’s also a boat launch and rental facility at nearby Lake Redman.

Patriot Homes, which is part of the Lennar family of builders (, is constructing single-family homes in the community, while Grayson Homes LLC has attached villa homes for sale.

Buyers can choose from homes with brick fronts, front porches and porticos in any of the 13 models by Lennar. Unlike typical attached row houses, Grayson Homes offers two-story villa residences that maximize living space and look like single-family homes. Four floor plans are available. Features include two-car garages, lofts, libraries and main-level laundry rooms.

Korey Homes LLC ( is featuring half-acre homesites in the Delta Ridge Estates community in Delta, minutes from Harford County, Md.

All five floor plans come with 9-foot first-floor ceilings and start in the $350,000s. One of the largest models, the Carley, is 2,700 square feet and comes with 3½ baths.

York County prides itself on offering industry, agriculture, scenic beauty, culture and history to go along with its housing growth.

The York County Convention and Visitors Bureau touts the area as the “factory tour capital of the world.” The tourism industry in York County is leading the region with record-setting increases in 2007, the visitor’s bureau reports.

Snack-food aficionados will enjoy touring the factories of Utz Potato Chips, Hershey’s Candy Bars and Snyder’s of Hanover Pretzels for a fun, behind-the-scenes look into the production process. York is also home of the original manufacturer of York Peppermint Patties.

York visitors can also tour the Harley-Davidson Vehicle Operations, ( detailing the plant’s history, assembly and manufacturing processes, or tour a 19th-century brewery complex in Mount Joy, Bube’s Brewery (, which includes restaurants, a brewery, beer garden, museum, art gallery, and the original Victorian hotel barroom.

Additional attractions include skiing at Roundtop in Lewisberry and visits to a variety of museums, wineries and performing arts venues.

York Hospital, Harley-Davidson, and local and federal governments are among the county’s major employers, according to the York County Economic Development Corp.

Even as the county grows, Mr. Snell says he believes York will retain its rustic charm.

“We still have some small towns and rural areas that Marylanders find attractive,” he says.

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