Philly Housing Market: Then And Now


     This is not the Pontiff's first visit to Philadelphia. On October 3rd and 4th, 1979 we graciously accepted Pope John Paul II into our city. A great deal has changed in the City of Brotherly Love since then, let's take a look and compare.

     In 1979 the Philadelphia population was at about 1,688,210 people. The city experienced a population decline from the 1960's to 2000, due to many different factors. However, we have seen a small but steady increase over the last few years of 2.2%, putting the city at about 1,560,297 people in 2014. The average median income for a Philadelphia resident in 1979 was $48,427, compared to just $37,192 in 2014.

    Although urban flight over the last 40 years, has left some areas of Philadelphia falling into decay, the real estate market has seen substantial improvements. Even during the Great Recession of 2008, the city maintained a consistent rate of growth. This is reflected in the number of houses for sale, the average sale price of a home, and the house price appreciation rate. The average price index for a home in the city has risen over %500 since 1979, with the current average sale price at around $142,000. Today's house price appreciation rate for a 36 year period is at a whopping 144.4%, with South and West Philadelphia having the highest rates of 195% and 195.7 %. 

   The Philadelphia housing market has experienced some ups and downs over the last thirty years. However, as we await the arrival of Pope Francis, our city has experienced a remarkable surge in new businesses, restaurants and nightlife activities, green spaces and pop-up gardens, and expanding college campuses. All of these developments will help the city's real estate market continue to grow in a positive direction.











Neighborhood Spotlight: Point Breeze

     Today we are spotlighting the Point Breeze neighborhood in South Philadelphia. Point Breeze is generally bound by 25th St. to the west, Washington Ave. to the north, Broad St. to the east, and Mifflin St. to the south. However, a smaller section, between 18th St. to Broad is now considered Newbold. Point Breeze was a point on the western side of the Schuylkill River, about where the Passyunk Avenue bridge is today. That area, to the east and west of the river, was established for oil refinery in the 1860s by Atlantic Petroleum Storage Company. The Avenue that connected the city proper to Point Breeze existed by 1808, known as "Long Lane." It later grew to be known as Point Breeze Avenue by 1895. 

     Up to and through the 1960's Point Breeze was thought to be a clean and safe neighborhood, with a substantial business district. Over the last forty years or so Point Breeze suffered from abandonment and population decline, due to many different socio-political and socio-economic factors. Today it is undergoing rapid revitalization from efforts by many community groups, such as South Philadelphia H.O.M.E.S. Inc., Neighbors in Action, Point Breeze Business Association, and Point Breeze Pioneers greening group.

     Local businesses and restaurants are entering the neighborhood again. The Sardine Bar, at 18th and Federal St., was opened by the owners of South Philly Tap Room, a few years ago. Breezy's Cafe, at 1200 Point Breeze Ave., offers sandwiches and salads for "locavores". A bar, eatery and shop at 1252 S. 21st St., Madira Bar and Grill, gives locals a spot for laid back grub and live music on certain nights. What was once a huge lot at 1622 Point Breeze Ave is home to the Point Breeze Pop-up garden. The garden features art and farmers' markets, beer tastings, a hot-dog stand and other community activities. There will also be an arts center, in a new building at Point Breeze and Titan St.

     Real estate developers have not missed this revitalization. Being that Point Breeze lays right below the "Graduate Hospital" or "South West Center CIty" area, it is a prime location for new development. Many abandoned properties and vacant lots have been transformed into beautiful 3-story townhouses with parking garages underneath. Other developers have simply rehabbed already existing brick row homes. The available housing stock in Point Breeze is growing, with new projects completed every week. There are currently 10 homes under construction on the 1400 block of S. Bouvier St.!  Buyers are drawn to the area because it is more affordable. The same three bedroom house in Point Breeze will be priced almost double that in Graduate Hospital. The area is perfect for young couples who want to stay close to Center City, but cannot afford the prices of those areas, or even the close-by Passyunk Square. There are also a great deal of rental properties available that fall under the $1500/month rate, which is becoming hard to find in South Philly.  Not to mention, Point Breeze offers great opportunities for a young, first time investor to purchase an income property. So if you are interested in buying or renting a home, head over to the west side of Broad, and check out how much Point Breeze has to offer.‚Äč


Caring For You Home In Autumn


     I think we can all agree that winters in Philadelphia have become more and more unpredictable over the past few years. Autumn is the best time to make sure your home is ready for the upcoming season. There are many things you can do to prepare you roof, windows and doors, and interior space. In today's blog we will review your heating system and what can be done to guarantee efficiency, warmth and comfort during a possibly arctic winter.

     Whether you have a forced air, hot-water or steam system an annual inspection and service check by a licensed, qualified professional is a must. However, you can do small things to ensure the life of your system. The easiest furnace maintenance task is simply replacing the filter. During the winter, or heating season, you should replace your filter once a month. With forced are systems, taking care of your ducts is very important. A leak in a duct can allow massive amounts of air into the attic, crawlspace or basement. Making sure there are no leaks ensures that all the heated air coming from the furnace gets to where it needs to be.  Dust, lint, germs and bacteria also accumulate in ducts, so a yearly cleaning is also a good idea. 

     If you have a hot water system, again a yearly service check is required. You can monitor the performance of your hot-water system on your own though. Most systems have only a single gauge, which measures pressure, temperature, and altitude. Most boilers run at 12-15 pounds per square inch of pressure. If the pressure is higher or lower something is wrong. Bleeding you radiators is also sometimes needed. If you have a radiator that just won't heat, it is most likely air-locked. Bleeding the air out relieves the pressure and allows the system and pipes to fill normally.

     As with forced and hot-water, steam systems should be checked by a professional once a year. However, regularly checking your steam gauge, safety valve, and water level is a great way to lengthen the life of your system. You can also check your vents to make sure they aren't blocked, and the position of your inlet valves- valves should be either all the way closed or opened. Partially shut or opened valves do nothing to move heat through your vents and can also cause that annoying clanging sound! Also make sure your radiators are sloped slightly toward the inlet pipe, which comes out of the wall or floor, this helps to prevent the knocking and clanging sounds as well.

     It is important to mention that if your house is too hot or too cold it could just be your thermostat. Some potential causes could be: It's in a bad spot, it needs cleaning, its anticipator needs adjustment, or you need new batteries. 

     In the coming weeks we will review more tips, tricks, and tasks you should perform to prepare for the winter season. Until then, we hope this helps and gets you thinking home maintenance as you sip your Pumpkin Spice Latte. Enjoy the changing of the season.  Reach out should you have any questions on the selling or buying process. 

Donna M Santore
Associate Broker