After years of declining population and dipping home values, the City of Brotherly Love is on the up-and-up. The Philadelphia 2017 State of the City Report from The Pew Charitable Trusts shows that the city’s population has climbed by over 79,000 from 2006 to 2016. And it’s not just population that’s increased in the city and surrounding area — the report also found that job growth is up and incomes have increased, creating a more prosperous economy.
When it comes to real estate, Philly’s become a seller’s market, as home sale prices have risen by 38 percent since 2010, according to Pew. While home prices are on the rise and competition for properties is getting fierce, there are still several areas in the city and surrounding area where you can find great values.
1. Cobbs Creek
- Average Sales Price: $73,631
- Average Price Per Square Foot: $54
- Average Difference (Sales Price to List Price): -$5,114
Named for the creek and park that serve as its western edge, Cobbs Creek is located in West Philly. It has a population of just over 46,000 people. A number of the area’s homes, which are largely Tudor or Colonial Revival or Craftsman bungalows, are part of the Cobbs Creek Automobile Suburb Historic District and are on the National Register of Historic Places.
The Market-Frankford Elevated Line (MFL) runs east to west along the northern border of the neighborhood, making it easy to get into Center City and other areas of Philly. The Cobbs Creek Trail connects to the 58th Street Greenway, which leads you to Bartram’s Garden, the oldest botanical garden in the country.
Despite the area’s historical significance, its location near a beautiful park and easy access to public transportation, housing prices in Cobbs Creek are much lower than other areas of the city. The average sales price is $73,631 and the average house sells for more than $5,000 below the listing price.
- Average Sales Price: $316,144
- Average Price Per Square Foot: $192
- Average Difference (Sales Price to List Price): -$3,818
The borough of Conshohocken lies along the Schuylkill River and is located 13 miles northwest of Philly. Although it’s not part of the city itself, it’s an attractive area for many because of its location and its wealth of restaurants and residential properties. Nicknamed Conshy, this spot is perfect for people who want to be close to the amenities of a major city but would rather not live in the city itself.
Commuters can travel to Philly from Conshy by hopping on the regional rail train or by getting on I-76, which runs alongside of the town. The Schuylkill River Trail designed for bikers and pedestrians runs next to the train tracks and the river. It also connects the borough to Philly and the suburbs farther west of the city.
The population of Conshohocken is relatively small at just under 8,000 people — less than a third the population of nearby Norristown, for example. Slightly more than half of the residents in Conshy own their homes.
Although Conshohocken is largely residential, it’s also known as a bustling hub for businesses small and large. Retailer David’s Bridal has its headquarters here, and IKEA’s flagship U.S. store and U.S. headquarters are both in Conshohocken, too.
- Average Sales Price: $254,954
- Average Price Per Square Foot: $213
- Average Difference (Sales Price to List Price): -$7,478
When it comes to hip, Philly neighborhoods, Fishtown tops the list. Conde Nast Traveler recently named it Philly’s Hottest Neighborhood, and Vogue claims all the best places to eat and drink in the city are in Fishtown. The neighborhood is easily accessible from Center City (home to the central business district and neighborhoods) and the rest of Philly, since the Market-Frankford line has several stops in the area. There are also several bus routes in the neighborhood, and the Route 15, the Girard Avenue trolley line, runs along Girard an Frankford Avenues on the southern border.
Home prices in Fishtown are rapidly increasing, with prices going up by 64 percent between 2010 and 2016, according to Pew’s State of the City report. Although there are many classic two- to-three bedroom row homes in the neighborhood, there’s a lot of new construction, as well as buildings that have been repurposed into homes. Historic fire companies, factories, warehouses and even old churches are all getting a second life as apartments, lofts or condos in Fishtown.
- Average Sales Price: $255,261
- Average Price Per Square Foot: $130
- Average Difference (Sales Price to List Price): -$4,307
Located about 20 minutes to the northwest of Center City, Germantown is full of history. It’s home to several mansions that date back to the time of the Revolutionary War, such as Cliveden and Grumblethorpe. Although you can’t recereate the history of these Germantown’s historic mansions, the neighborhood has a variety of homes to choose from including a number of row homes and larger single-family houses. Although the average sales price in Germantown seems steep at $255,261, buyers typically get a lot of house for their money, especially compared to properties in trendier areas of Philly.
For example, according to Philadelphia Magazine, while $500,000 will only get you a small 2-bedroom or even just a studio in Rittenhouse, one of Philly’s most prestigious areas, you can get a five-bedroom historic country home with same money in Germantown. This home would be complete with three bathrooms, solar panels on the roof and a nature preserve in your backyard. If you want to live in the heart of the city but still get plenty of indoor and outdoor space, Germantown is worth a look.
5. Point Breeze
- Average Sales Price: $186,673
- Average Price Per Square Foot: $165
- Average Difference (Sales Price to List Price): $4,792
Point Breeze is a South Philly neighborhood that has seen a lot of change in recent years. Home values have skyrocketed in the past several years: The median sale price in the 19146 zip code (the northern part of the neighborhood) is $220,000 and the median sale price in the 19145 zip code (the southern part of the neighborhood) is $135,000, an increase of 42 percent and 35 percent respectively from median prices in 2010, according to Pew.
Homes in Point Breeze include two to three bedroom older row homes, and a lot of new construction or newly rehabbed homes. The area has been particularly appealing to developers and house flippers, many of whom have purchased older, worn-down properties for a song and resold them for prices pushing half of a million. Just like in Fishtown, it’s not just older homes that are being made new in Point Breeze — former schools and other buildings originally used for other purposes are also being transformed into housing.
Philly is quickly advancing and has a lot to offer all sorts of homebuyers. Whether you’re looking to move to a commuter-friendly suburb, a historic neighborhood or a trendier locale, you can find your own oasis in Philadelphia.
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