Archive for March, 2009

The Swedes are Coming – Landing Day Wilmington Delaware

March 29, 2009

Old Swedes FlagsThis morning, Delaware and  the Old Swedes Foundation held Landing Day Services at the site of Fort Christina Park in Wilmington DE.

Unknown by many, Delaware was founded by the Swedes and Finns. In 1638, the first Swedish settlement was established at Fort Christina located just east of present day Wilmington just off 7th Street along the Christina River. They quickly formed the first permanent settlement in the future state.  The Swedes controlled the immediate area until 1655 when the Dutch took control and the future state of Delaware ultimately fell under British control in 1664.  The Swedes also founded the first permanent European settlement in Pennsylvania.

In 1698 the Swedes and Finns built a new church on the site of their original burial ground.  The church was established as aOld Swedes Church Wilmington Delaware Swedish Lutheran Church but in 1791 it became part of the Protestant Episcopal Church.  The Old Swedes Church is the oldest church still in use as originally built.

Today was the 371st anniversary of the Swedes and Finns original landing on March 29, 1638.  In 1938, Fort Christina State Park was built before the 300th anniversary of the event and it was dedicated in 1938 with the attendance of President Franklin Roosevelt and Swedish royalty.  The Landing Day Services have been held every year since (except for two years) on March 29 and in 1988 on the 350th Anniversary the Swedish King and Queen once again attended the ceremonies.

Fort Christina Park Wilmington DelawareThis morning’s event was held by the congregation and Old Swedes Foundation with both Delaware Governor Jack Markell and Wilmington Mayor James Baker providing remarks.  There were also proclamations delivered from the state, county, and city.  Despite the weather, it was well attended, well done, and continued the long standing tradition honoring our founding.

Local PA Finds: Penns Woods Winery & Chaddsford Winery

March 25, 2009

Chadds Ford Winery Entry Chadds Ford PAAs we enter the last weekend of March, you still have the opportunity to take advantage of the Barrels on the Brandywine Event put on by the member wineries of the Brandywine Valley Wine Trail.  The Brandywine Valley Wine Trail encompasses seven wineries (soon to be eight) ranging from just west of Philadelphia to eastern Lancaster County.  Saturday and Sunday from noon to 5:00 are the last two days of the event and offer a perfect opportunity to sample the new 2008 vintages at each location.

With over 120 Limited Wineries, Pennsylvania has a rich variety of wineries throughout the state.  Of the seven on the trail in this region, five are located in Chester County, one in Delaware County, and one in Lancaster County. Penns Woods Winery Chadds Ford PA Locally, there are two that are easily accessible for anyone in Delaware County or New Castle County Delaware.

Penns Woods Winery is the only winery exclusively located in Delaware County.  Situated just west of Route 202 on Beaver Valley Road in Chadds Ford Township, Gino Razzi started crafting wines in 2002 and in 2004 bought the former Smithbridge Winery.  This allows him to take  advantage of a combination of 25 year old vines on an ideal vineyard site with the latest in technology in his state of the art processing facility.  This is a smaller exclusive winery producing about 2000 cases per year grown, processed, and bottled in Delaware County.

Just to the west of the Brandywine Creek in Chester County is the Chaddsford WineryChadds Ford Winery Chadds Ford PennsylvaniaThe Barrels on the Brandywine event is just the beginning as they gear up for the Spring season.  Beginning in April, they kick off their Spring Wine Education Schedule with Wine 101 on April 9.  This is the first of  nine scheduled events lasting through May 17th.  In addition, they are beginning their New Technical Tour of the winery on April 1.  Finally, following up on their successful promotion in 2008, they are again joining with WMMR’s Pierre Robert to produce a new wine, “Pierre Noir“, for 2009.  Bottled locally here in Chadds Ford, the winery both grows its own grapes at the Miller Estate Vineyard in Elverson and purchases additional grapes from throughout the area.

As we continue into Spring, this is another great opportunity to get out and sample more of what the area has to offer.  Enjoy!

As always, if you have any questions or need any information on your real estate needs, do not hesitate to contact me anytime!

Aldan Pa Station – SEPTA 102 Trolley Line

March 23, 2009

Aldan PA SEPTA 102 TrolleyWelcome to Aldan Borough Pennsylvania

Today we are visiting the Aldan PA SEPTA 102 Trolley Line Station located in the center of Aldan at the intersection of Woodlawn Avenue and Providence Rd.  Aldan Bourough Pa is located just south of Clifton Heights, east of Upper Darby and Springfield, north of Collingdale and Sharon Hill, and generally west of Lansdowne and Darby.

The SEPTA 102 Line runs from the 69th Street Terminal to Sharon Hill.  This station is just two stops south of where it crosses the SEPTA R3 Regional Rail Line which runs from Center City out to Media/Elwyn.  This line runs down the center of Woodlawn Ave through the center of Aldan and does not have any designated parking although street parking is available.  There is some additional parking adjacent to the R3 Station.  With frequent service, this is a great local pick up point located adjacent to the Borough Hall and the Aldan Elementary School.  The video will provide some additional details:

In general, real estate pricing has held up here better than in many sections of the county.  After reaching a peak of 91 sales in 2004, sales volume has decreased across the board to 72 sales in 2005, 61 in 2006, 49 in 2007, 42 in 2008, and 18 in the last six months.  Despite this declining sales rate, prices have remained relatively solid until just recently.  In 2004 the average sales price was $158,000 which then jumped to $184,000 in 2005.  Since then, there has been very little movement with prices averaging $188,000 in 2006, $189,000 in 2007, $182,000 in 2008, and $186,000 for the last six months.  Currently, there are an additional 32 homes on the market with an average list price of $185,000 and seven pending sales with an average list price of $158,000.  When these properties settle, we will see the average sales price going down a bit further.

So compared to many communities in the area, Aldan has proven to be one of the more stable areas.  The Borough remains popular with easy access to both the R3 Regional Rail and the SEPTA 102 Trolley providing quick access to Center City Philadelphia and the surrounding local communities. 

Should you have any questions or need any additional information, please do not hesitate to contact me anytime.

(All statistics from the TrendMLS System and believed accurate but not guaranteed.)

New Castle County Delaware Real Estate Update

March 19, 2009
So what’s happening in New Castle County Delaware real estate today? –  A bit of a slog but a few signs of Spring.

Rockford Tower Wilmington Delaware

As noted in my last post on New Castle County, the market here experienced the same drop in activity that we saw region wide.  Since then, again like other areas, it has continued to struggle.  Closed sales have continued at the slowest pace seen in years, but recently we have seen an uptick in new properties going under contract.  We may be seeing the beginning of a more solid market.

First Some History:

For all New Castle County, prices and sales activity rose from a sales pace of 7689 properties at an average price of less than $200,000 in 2003 , to a peak sales rate of 8285 homes at an average price of $245,000 in 2005.  Prices continued to rise to a peak price of $266,000 in 2007 but sales during this same period had declined to a rate of 6880 units.  In 2008, both prices and activity declined as the average price fell to $259,000 with only 4883 sales.

In 2009, sales for the first two months continued to decline with only 220 home settlements in January and 254 in February.  This was down 28% from the same time period in 2008.  Prices have also declined to an average price of $238,000.  On a good note, there has been an uptick in pending properties.  New properties under contract rose a bit with 332 new contracts in January and 345 in February.  This pace was only down 21% from the same period in 2008 and up 31% from the last two months of 2008.

Bottom Line:

BrandywineAlthough it remains unclear if we have reached a floor, there are signs that we could have a fairly strong spring.  The increase in new properties going under contract will inevitably lead to increased sales and this should tend to free up activity as sellers look to move up.  The market as a whole should benefit both from both the decline in prices/mortgage rates and the pent up demand resulting from the recent below normal sales rate.  If Washington and the Treasury Department can show any leadership, the market could firm fairly quickly.  With historically low interest rates, increased inventory, and declining home values, this is actually one of the best times to purchase properties we have seen in years.  Will it hold? – Too soon to tell, but it appears we are now beginning to move in the right direction.

Briarcliffe Darby Township PA Update

March 11, 2009

Briarcliffe Row Darby Township PA

Since its construction in the fifties, Briarcliffe in Darby Township Pennsylvania has always been one of the most popular communities in the area.

This Suburban Philadelphia community with over 2000 homes is centrally located in eastern Delaware County just west of Collingdale, north of Glenolden, and generally southeast of Springfield.  Ashland Avenue, which runs through the center of Darby township and the community,  provides direct access up to Providence Road or south to MacDade Boulevard.  Oak Lane on the eastern edge is a major generally north – south route in the area.

Briarcliff is part of the Southeast Delco School District.  The Darby Township School, serving grades 1-8, is located on Ashland Ave within easy walking distance of much of the community. The Kindergarten Center has its own location just off Rively Ave.  This is adjacent to the Briarcliff Athletic AssociationBriarcliffe Athletice Association In Line Hockey This great facility includes baseball fields, field house, in-line hockey rinks, snack stand, and all the support facilities required for a strong community sports program.  Briarcliffe also has its own Briarcliffe Fire Company on Beech Avenue which has served the Briarcliffe and the surrounding communities since 1954.

Real Estate Values have done very well here over the years and continue to hold up well.  After having an average sales price below $100,000 in 2003, prices rapidly appreciated to top out with an average sales price of $148,000 in 2007.  Since then, as seen in most areas, prices have drifted down – about 3.4% in 2008 and an additional 3.3% in 2009 with eight properties having settled year to date in 2009 with an average sales price of $138,000, down 6.8% from their peak.  There has also been a corresponding drop in activity from 101 homes sales in 2006, to 96 home sales in 2007, and to 65 settled properties through 2008.

Briarcliffe PennsylvaniaCurrently there are an additional 15 properties for sale in Briarcliffe at an average list price of $147,000.  Nine homes are under contract with an average list price of $154,000 indicating continuing strong demand in the area, particularily for those in move-in condition.

If you are considering a move into the area, need a good central location, and want to be in a strong community, you need to check out Briarcliffe.

If you need any additional information or are considering buying or selling in the area, please do not hesitate to contact me anytime with questions.

(All statistics are from the TrendMLS System and believed accurate but not guaranteed.)

Suburban Philadelphia Delaware County PA Market Update

March 7, 2009

So – How are we doing  today in the Suburban Philadelphia – Delaware County PA real estate market after the first two months of 2009? – basically OK

The raw numbers don’t look good.  The number of sales in January/ February 2009 declined by 28% compared to the November/ December 2008 rate, dropped by 33% compared to Jan/ Feb 2008, and by 47% compared to the average month in 2008.   This obviously does not look good but looks better when you recognize that there was a 22% drop for the same period as we went from 2007 to 2008. 

Radnor BarnIn addition, after experiencing an average county wide price decline in Nov/ Dec by 8.5 % compared to the average 2008 price, the price has remained stable at $240,000 through the first two months of 2009.  There were also 1361 new listings in this period, down 26% from 2008, and 661 properties that received accepted offers, down 30% from 2008.  This has resulted in an increase in average days on the market from 73 in 2008 to 96 days in 2009.

Finally, the average list price of new units listed was $311,000 versus average sold price of $240,000.  As noted in earlier posts, this is basically evidence of the larger relative activity in the lower price ranges.  As we saw earlier, the luxury market remains challenged in this environment.

Bottom Line:  The warning signs are still out there as we see more inventory, longer days an the market, and lower sales.  The key statistic, though, may be that the prices countywide may be becoming a bit more stable.  If we can hold the price and increase sales, which may result naturally from both the time of year and the trickle down impacts of the stimulus bill, we could see a more stable and building market as we progress through the year.  The key component remains the return of consumer confidence.  If Washington continues to show zero leadership on important issues and continues its attacks on the consumer, we could continue to see a stalled market and a return of declining prices.

If you need more details on your particular community or want to know about your property, please do not hesitate to contact me anytime.

(All statistics from the TrendMLS System and are believed accurate but not guaranteed.)

Local Finds: Hedgerow Theatre & Players Club of Swarthmore

March 5, 2009

New shows are ready to debut at both the Hedgerow Theatre in Rose Valley PA and the Players Club of Swarthmore in Delaware County Suburban Philadelphia.

hedgerowcr1Now in its 85th season, the Hedgerow Theatre in Rose Valley continues its long tradition of outstanding theatre.  Housed in a former 1840 grist-mill, this was the first resident repertory theatre in the country and and “earned an identity as “The Mother of all Philadelphia Theatres.”  Continuing its long history with George Bernard Shaw, “Arms and the Man” just opened March 3 and has its official Opening Night this Friday, March 6.  Set in 1885, this is “one of Shaw’s comic masterpieces on the perils of love and war.”  This should be an excellent production and with only 144 seats, there truly is not a bad seat in the house.

In addition, March has a bit of an Irish flair with the St Patrick’s Cabaret being held March 17th.  This show will highlight the resident players and will include the step dancers from the McHugh School of Irish Dance.    On March 14, the Children’s Series continues with “Charlotte’s Web”.  Looking ahead, the World Premiere of “The White Room” by Nagle Jackson will begin its run on April 17.  The Hedgerow also has several upcoming classes including its Performance Showcase Class beginning March 10.

players-club-w-brThe Players Club of Swarthmore also has several upcoming shows.  Bus Stop is set to open March 12.  ” The bus driver is real good friends with the waitress, the cowboy fancies the small-town chanteuse, the professor gone to seed has his eye on the sweet young thing, a snowstorm is howling outside and the sheriff just stepped out.”  This is running through March 28.  On March 6 & 7, there will also be a staged reading of George Bernard Shaw’s “Heartbreak House“.

This is a great time of year to get out and enjoy some entertainment and both theaters offer some great options.  Take advantage of all the area has to offer!

Willistown Knoll, Willistown Woods, and You

March 1, 2009

Sometimes the best location is just down the road a bit, but you just didn’t notice it.   Willistown Knoll, Willistown Woods, and Worington Commons are centrally located but still provide the feel and immediate access of Chester County and Delaware County country living.  

These back to back communities located in the southwest corner of Willistown Township offer an incredibly convenient location.  They are adjacent to the West Chester Pike  just west of its intersection with Route 926 along the Delaware County / Chester County border. Willistown Woods Willistown Township Pennsylvania This location in southwest Willistown Township provides direct access to West Chester just minutes to the west, to Delaware via Route 926/Street Rd and then 202 south, Southern Delaware County and Media by Route 352, and to Newtown Square, the Blue Route, and all points east on West Chester Pike.

Willistown Woods was the original development built in the early 80’s with over 200 units.  These townhomes located off West Chester Pike have always been a popular option.  Pricing is very reasonable and prices have drifted down recently making them even more affordable.  Eight units sold in 2008 for an average sold price of $253,000.  This was down about 6% from the average in 2007 and over 8% from their peak.  There are currently two units on the market starting at $242,000.

worngtrhsboardJust off the entrance to Willistown Woods is Worington Commons.  This is a smaller, less expensive alternative to its neighbor up the hill built in the late 80s.  The community  of about 60 units had only one sale in 2008 for $211,000 and there are currently two units on the market starting at $210,000.  This pricing is in line with the last couple years as the pricing has remained in the $205-$210 range since 2005.

willisknollsAbutting Willistown Woods over the crest of the hill is Willistown Knoll with its entrance off Route 926 / Street Rd.  This community was also built in the late 80s.  The homes here tend to be more spacious and the community boasts more common ground and a more open flow resulting in an higher average sales price of $309,000 in 2008 (10 units sold).  This is actually up just slight from sales average between $297 and $301,000 from 2005-2007.  There is currently only one home on the market for $318,900.

All three communties offer a great opportunity to own a home that is within easy commuting distance of most of the major population and work centers in the region while still retaining some of the original Chester County country feel that surrounded them when they were originally built.  They remain a great choice.

( All statistics fromt the TrendMLS system are believed accurate but not guaranteed.)