Archive for December, 2008

Luxury in Suburban Philadelphia

December 29, 2008

Quick Market Update:

The top end luxury home market continues at a leisurely pace as we close out the year.

In Delaware County Pennsylvania for the last quarter of 2008 (Oct 1- Dec 31), only eleven sales in the $1+ Million price range were recorded in the TrendMLS Delaware County Market Statistics as of 12/30/08.  Many of these properties were new construction which were placed under contract well before the recent financial market turmoil. 

Only two existing homes had settlements during the quarter – both in Radnor Township: Wayne PA 19087 – both settled just above $1.3M

Radnor Homes

 There are currently an additional 155 homes available on the market in this price range reflecting an average asking price of $1,804,000 with an average of 195 days on the market.  Last year there were 29 settlements during this same time period.

Looking forward: As interest rates remain low and the financial markets become more stable, we expect there to be increasing activity as we proceed through 2009.  Demand appears to be rising due to the below average sales pace. Both buyers and sellers are ready but remain out of the market.  I would expect this to begin to correct in the medium term.

(All information per TrendMLS System. Information believed correct but not guaranteed)

Happy Holidays

December 23, 2008

Holiday Doorway

Happy Holidays!

Merry Christmas!

Season’s Greetings!

Happy Hanukkah!

Enjoy all the Season has to Offer!

Trains & Trolleys for Suburban Philadelphia

December 17, 2008

Amtrak Keystone passes Wayne PAOne of the great (and least often appreciated) things about a long established city is its well developed public transportation network.  Philadelphia and its suburbs are no exception.

Before the widespread use of the automobile, one of the key advantages that came with city living was its easy access to public transportation both within and around the surrounding area.  Philadelphia has always been at the forefront of transportation development.  Originally dependent primarily on river transportation, it quickly benefited from early road, rail, and canal development due to its prime East Coast location.  This was hastened by the state when Pennsylvania created the Main Line of Public Works which opened in 1834.

Beginning in the 1840s, Philadelphia continued to build on its strong East Coast position, as the Pennsylvania Railroad, headquartered in Philadelphia, developed one of the finest rail systems in the world.  This provided easy access for Philadelphians and their businesses to connections throughout the country.  The railroad was a major economic force until its eventual demise in the 1970’s. Local Media Trolley 101

Today, rail remains a critical transportation component both locally and regionally.  In Delaware County, the original Main Line still runs across its northern border through Havertown and Radnor townships.  Running along its southern border, the all important Northeast Corridor continues to connect the major northeast coastal cities from Boston, through New York, Philadelphia, Wilmington, Baltimore, and down to Washington, DC. 

Concurrently with the development and growth of intercity rail, demand grew for local transportation options as well. These were answered by the development of local train, trolley, and other light rail options. The first horse drawn public transportation appeared in 1831, the first passenger train service arrived in 1832, the first electric trolley line arrived in 1892, and the first bus lines followed in 1923.  Over time, these merged, went out of business, or were replaced by other forms of transportation until the final consolidation by the government with the advent of SEPTA.

R2 Passes Chester PASEPTA was founded in 1964, and by 1983 it had responsibility for all the public transportation systems within the Philadelphia region. Today it is the 5th largest public transportation system in the country.  According to SEPTA’s web site, the system includes, rail, light rail, bus, and trolley systems spanning 316 stations/bus terminals, 2664 vehicles, almost 9000 employees, and has a 325 million annual ridership.   The system covers Delaware County with 2613 Septa stops including 54 rail stops on 3 regional rail lines and multiple trolley/high speed rail lines.    These rail connections are concentrated in the eastern, northern, and southern areas of the county while the central and western sections are primarily accessed through bus service.

Today this network provides easy commuting options both within the county and to downtown Philadelphia and continues to be a major benefit and draw for people living, working, and enjoying all that the area has to offer. In the future, I will be highlighting major stops of these rail lines to provide a better feel for the individual communities and their development.

Local Finds: Random Pieces – Wayne, PA

December 14, 2008

randomsIt happens to all of us. 

You downsize from a five bedroom house to a three bedroom condo.  You change from a two story colonial to a multi-story contemporary.  You get your first home and the two bedroom apartment furnishings with the egg crate shelves just don’t make it.  In each case, you need a change of furniture.

Sometimes you need an entire house, at other times you may need just an accent piece – but you always have the same problems with where to go for the new furniture and what to do with the old.  Well now, beyond all the new furniture store options and rather than trying to wade through a thrift store, you have another alternative to consider.

Hidden in Wayne and open only once a month is Random Pieces.  Whether you are buying or selling, you may want to give Chip a call.  He can explain it best:

Located behind 120-122 Lancaster Ave in Wayne, they open once a month so buyers can come and peruse the latest finds.  It can be an eclectic collection ranging from single item tables or sideboards to full furniture sets and everything in between.  Items vary but they try to maintain a mix for every room in your home.  They can also buy your quality furniture from you to ease the transition if you may be moving, downsizing, or may simply need a change.

Considering a move?  Thinking of something a little bit different?  Need to get rid of some of the existing furnishings? Trying to save some money?   Random Pieces may be a good place to start – and they are local!

What about Delaware & Chester County?

December 11, 2008

wstovrh4The last post on pricing, sales activity, and overall trends in Delaware County, PA raised the question of whether we were seeing the same thing region wide.  Short answer: Yes.

In New Castle County, Delaware, there were $74 Million dollars worth of properties sold in November consisting of 302 properties with an average price of $245,000 per the TrendMLS system market statistics.   Compared to earlier sales:

   Nov sales were down 38% from the 2008 avg sales thru Oct
   Nov sales were down 51% from the 2007 average sales/month
   Nov sales were down 69% from peak sales rate in June 2006

We saw close to the same sales rate($76 Million) in January 2008.  To match this, you would need to go back to Feb 2002 to see a lower sales volume. 

In Chester County, PA, total sales were $101 Million consisting of 295 units with an average price of $344,000.  Compared to earlier sales:

   Nov sales were down 34% from the 2008 average thru Oct
   Nov sales were down 45% from the 2007 average
   Nov sales were down 69% from the June 2005 peak.

Echoing New Castle County, sales were actually lower in January of this year at $95 Million.  Prior to January, we last saw this sales volume in February 2001.

Bottom line
: We do seem to be seeing the same trends throughout the region. 

Again, once financing issues resolve themselves and people can have some confidence on the future rates and programs, we could see a rapid build up in activity as the market responds to pent up demand.  Both the time to resolve the financing issues and the increase/decrease in inventory on the market will dictate the direction of prices once sales pick up, but at this point pricing seems to be holding up reasonably well.

As I mentioned earlier, if you are thinking of buying or selling in the near term, now is the time to get ready.  I would expect the new administration to act fairly quickly once in office and you should be prepared to take advantage of any new opportunities as they appear.

As always, if you need any additional information or have any comments, please feel free to contact me anytime.

(All statistics from TrendMLS Market Statistics and believed accurate but not guaranteed)

Time to Take the Long View

December 8, 2008

brdgs1The numbers don’t add up.

After reviewing the November statistics in Delaware County Pennsylvania just west of Philadelphia, there is really not enough local sales activity for the numbers to indicate any clear trends.  Depending on the area/township viewed, you could demonstrate the market moving in almost any direction desired.  Normally, you can look at detailed statistics at the township level and generalize for the county and vice versa – not accurate at this point.  So now it is probably better to look at the bigger picture.

The important dynamic here is “How is the overall market doing?”, “What impact has the overall economy had on the local activity?”.   This is where we have seen some dramatic changes. 

In Delaware County, PA for November, properties settled with a total value of $64 Million per the TrendMLS system market statistics.  This consisted of 275 units sold with an average of 76 days on the market  and an average sale price of $247K.  To put those numbers in perspective, we had been averaging about $150M/month sales from 2005-2007, or in comparison:

   November was down 43% from the average through Oct in 2008.
   November was down 55% from the 2007 average sales/month.
   November was down 71% from our June 2005 peak sales month.

The last time we saw this level of dollar sales volume was February 2003 (February figures are usually the lowest for the year since they are roughly based on sales in late Dec/early Jan).  The last time we saw only 275 units sold was before January 2000 (the earliest our records go in the TrendMLS system).

What should you do? – get ready.  As shown before, prices are generally holding up reasonably well – we just need some stability on the financial side before people will have the confidence to move forward. There continue to be many homes on the market and many ready and able sellers and buyers “when the time is right”.  There also appears to be quite a bit of cash lying on the sidelines from investors and first time home-buyers taking a wait and see attitude. 

This is creating some interesting market dynamics and opportunities.  Without a doubt, there is increasing pent up demand.  People still need to move for personal or business reasons.  If the interest rates continue to decline, at some point, this will reignite the market with an unknown response to price levels.  We saw this on the west coast where after the market had been declining for years, once it turned, the prices recovered within 18 months.

What happens now?  As a buyer or seller, if you are in the market for the long term, this looks like a good time to be testing the waters.  With a new administration coming, we can expect them to do everything possible to boost demand.  If successful, we could see a very quick turnaround in both activity and prices toward the second quarter of next year.  The next few months could be a great time to make a move or prepare to capitalize on any new opportunities.

As always, if you have any comments or need any more details, please let me know.

History & Convenience in Wallingford

December 5, 2008

It’s really no wonder that Nether Providence, Pennsylvania (aka as Wallingford, PA) was ranked in the Top Ten Places to Live by Money Magazine in 2007.  It really is an ideal combination of location, schools, and proximity to all that the area has to offer.  Housing is affordable, the schools are great, and it’s only twenty minutes from downtown Philadelphia.  In addition, although it does not have a downtown, it is immediately adjacent to the thriving county hub of Media. 

The real estate market is diverse here – from small condos to large estates.  It was also one of the earliest foremanareas to be settled during the founding of our country due to its close proximity to Philadelphia and the Delaware River so you can find a wide variety of homes reflecting the changing years.  Early on it was considered a prime industrial area with plenty of water and adjacent to the then bustling commercial hub of Chester.  Since those days, it has become a primarily suburban residential area with easy rail and highway access to both Philadelphia and Wilmington.

Today, one of its earlier residential buildings is on the market.  Thomas Leiper came to America in 1764 and developed various mills in the narrow valley of Crum Creek.  He also built his home and those for his staff and workers in the area.  Part of his early plans included the Foreman’s house built about 1830.  Through the years it has only had three owners and has been used variously as the Foreman’s House, a residence, and most recently a gallery.  Nick DeLuca with Long & Foster Real Estate currently has the home on the market for $299,800. 

Originally listed for over $600K, he notes that the home is full of character and although it is surrounded by residential properties, it is currently zoned as industrial which could allow any future owner a great deal of flexibility for future use as approved by the township.  In addition, since it has been expanded with a full gallery/work space on the first level, an owner has tons of flexibility as to how the interior spaces could be used most effectively for home or business.

Please find attached a video for more information: 

 The home is truly a great combination of history, modern day conveniences, and space that can lend itself to many imaginative uses for the buyer looking a special home.  If you have any questions or need any additional information, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Planes For All

December 3, 2008
One of the clear advantages to living in Delaware County is it’s easy access to Philadelphia and the world.

Situated just west of Philadelphia, the county boasts incredible transportation links for local, regional, and international travel with great rail, air, and highway access.  Locally, it has great rail & bus public transportation throughout the county and surrounding areas.  More importantly, it is located directly on some crucial highway arteries and is minutes from the international airport. 

The Philadelphia International Airport is a world class transportation hub.  After a quick review of its website, it is amazing hoairplanesmall6w it has grown and the activity that it now harbors.  From its original beginnings on 125 acres in 1925, it has grown to be one of the ten busiest airports in the world.  From serving just 40,000 passengers in 1940, it now serves 39 million annually.  The airport complex has over 2.4 million square feet, with 120 boarding gates.  Its newest Terminal A – West features 13 international boarding gates with more than 50 Bureau of Customs and Immigration positions.

In addition, JD Power & Associates ranked PHL highest in customer satisfaction for large airports in 2008.  The Airports Council Intl (AIC-NA) recently named the B/C Terminal Philadelphia Marketplace Food and Shops  the “Best Food and Beverage Program” among large airports in North America (the airport includes over 160 food, beverage, and retail shops spread throughout the airports seven terminals).  It even has an Exhibitions Program for the visual arts and  has recently committed to  purchasing 13,000 megawatt hours per year of clean renewable power wind power per year earning a Green Power Award from the Citizens for Pennsylvania’s Future.

The airport has done a great job of transforming its business over the last several years to truly become an amazing asset to the city and surrounding communities.  For additional information, please take a look at the attached airport links:

 General Information      Flight Information      History         
 Terminal Map              Newsletter               Environment

Philadelphia International provides immediate air access to the world from Philadelphia, Delaware County, Chester County, and Wilmington/New Castle County.  It’s great to have this hub in our own backyard.  Stay tuned for updates on additional transportation options.


Do It Now! WMMR Camp Out For Hunger

December 1, 2008

Mark your calendars!  You need to donate TODAY!

Today is the first day of the annual WMMR Preston & Steve’s Show “Camp Out For Hunger” to support PhilAbundance.  PhilAbundance is “the Philadelphia region’s largest hunger relief organization.  Their mission is to end hunger and malnutrition in the Delaware Valley by acquiring food and distributing it through organizations serving people in need.  They’ve been around since 1984 and have provided food for over 60 million meals!”  The Preston & Steve show has been supporting PhilAbundance for years.  Steve says it best:

The camp out is being held from December 1st through the 5th at the Metroplex in Plymouth Meeting, just west of Philadelphia.  Donations will be accepted everyday from about 6AM until approximately 9PM.  Preston & Steve will be broadcasting every morning from the Metroplex and there will be various other broadcasts from the location during the week.

It is a great cause and PhilAbundance can really use the support in this challenging year. They truly need it now more than ever.   Come by, drop off your donation, and maybe even enter some contests or win a prize.

They thank you for your support! 

Gadzooks –  WMMR Rocks!   Support PhilAbundance Today!

For more information on items needed, times, locations, etc, you can get all the details on the WMMR site.
For more information on PhilAbundance, you can click here.