R5Realty News and Notes

Market Snapshots and Commentary on Value and Quality of life along the former Main Line of the Pennsylvania Rail Road, up until recently called the R5 Line, and now officially known as the Paoli /Thorndale line. R5Realty runs from Center City Philadelphia through the walkable, Westward outlying Towns & Townships.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

March 2013 Lower Merion Home Prices Paid From $150,000 to $995,000 Features Pre-Season Specials

Winter-time home shoppers got nice price for this Ardmore single

The transaction numbers we see below generally reflect the out-of -prime-season deals that were negotiated back in December, January, early February, which are now being reported and settling in March. Downside of home-shopping in these months is that there is very little on the market and uprooting in late spring or summer is logistically not practical for the masses. But the upside is the opportunity to strike deals for homes like 225 Linwood  Ave.(4beds/2.5 baths). This 2,300! square foot single in Ardmore was in need of some updating, especially the kitchen, but the home was obviously very well cared for and loved by its child-rearing owners of about a decade. Spacious for the price and move-in ready, this classic brick colonial featured two large garages very capable of producing $500 in monthly rental income and which would reduce inclusive mortgage payment to about the same or better than your average nearby 2-bedroom apartment. Factoring in credits for closing costs, the net price paid for the home was only $293,000. Due to the intense competition we're seeing now in the spring market, this home would likely fetch 10% more in price. Again, quality homes are Very Hard to find in the winter months, but when they come on there is opportunity for those ready to move.

Lower Merion Home Transactions for March 2013, Listed for less than One Million Dollars

Sold ForStreet AddressTownBedsBathsSq FtOrig List
$225,000 232 Simpson RdArdmore32.11,481$228,000
$246,500 147 Simpson RdArdmore31.11,600$249,900
$305,000 225 Linwood AveArdmore42.12,324$309,000
$315,000 35 Chatham RdArdmore311,332$324,900
$364,500 1420 W Wynnewood Ardmore32.11,658$395,000
$380,799 63 Llanfair CirArdmore43.12,726$375,000
$655,000 103 Linwood AveArdmore73.14,012$650,000
$238,500 22 Bryn Mawr AveBala Cynwyd53.12,746$299,000
$312,000 707 Conshohocken Bala Cynwyd421,598$349,000
$315,000 725 Stradone RdBala Cynwyd432,075$305,000
$365,000 711 Oxford RdBala Cynwyd42.12,246$375,000
$390,000 127 Bryn Mawr AveBala Cynwyd52.12,273$390,000
$397,000 142 Upland TerBala Cynwyd522,030$399,900
$420,000 171 School StBala Cynwyd53.23,100$445,000
$455,000 1112 SandringhamBala Cynwyd42.13,268$479,000
$500,000 49 Cornell RdBala Cynwyd52.23,314$549,000
$115,000 1050 Markee TerBryn Mawr21996$150,000
$300,000 30 Thomas AveBryn Mawr421,600$295,000
$539,000 115 Pennsylvania AveBryn Mawr432,518$539,000
$965,000 549 Hoffman DrBryn Mawr42.13,695$995,000
$910,000 1635 Briar Hill RdGladwyne43.13,100$895,000
$420,000 407 Berkley RdHaverford42.12,000$419,900
$450,000 404 Richard KnollHaverford31.11,529$499,000
$822,450 222 Booth LnHaverford43.13,124$844,900
$240,000 251 Stoneway LnMerion Station32.11,584$260,000
$270,000 118 Rockland RdMerion Station311,248$289,900
$290,000 501 Kenilworth RdMerion Station311,356$300,000
$449,500 514 Baird RdMerion Station42.12,176$449,500
$214,750 326 Iona AveNarberth21.1984$224,900
$236,000 220 Hampden AveNarberth311,212$249,000
$280,000 325 Meeting HouseNarberth31.11,200$299,900
$320,000 2 Schiller AveNarberth221,221$320,000
$440,000 1 Woodside AveNarberth522,739$437,500
$529,750 1130 Hillcrest RdNarberth42.13,321$529,750
$700,000 430 Gilpin RdPenn Valley543,409$739,000
$227,500 149 Rock Glen RdWynnewood31.21,549$249,900
$260,000 1404 Surrey LnWynnewood41.11,790$250,000
$290,000 1501 City AveWynnewood32.21,780$300,000
$310,000 254 Harrogate RdWynnewood31.21,625$315,000
$320,000 1403 Remington RdWynnewood31.11,745$339,900
$370,000 606 Latham DrWynnewood321,408$389,900
$475,000 418 Redleaf RdWynnewood322,038$499,000
$507,000 908 Clover Hill RdWynnewood32.12,425$525,000
$530,000 412 Wynmere RdWynnewood42.12,199$565,000

Caveat Emptor! Home Inspection Is Just One Element in the Process of Home-Buyers Due Diligence

Inspection Report provides no cost or cause details of siding defect

Whether it's new construction, a recent rehab, or the most likely Delaware Valley scenario of a 50 to 100 year-old house in average condition that's been discounted to reflect the maintenance a new owner will have to perform, most every homebuyer will want and need to have a home inspection performed prior to finalizing purchase of a home.

But despite the ample price tag of about $600 for a combined home, termite and radon inspection, most home inspections are regrettably not an end unto themselves. For a variety of reasons which fall under the catch-all phrase "Standard Practices," most home inspections will contain multiple recommendations for the buyer to contact a qualified contractor to examine any areas identified as either major concerns or even potential major concerns.

One problem with this is that a typical home inspection review period is only 10 days. In peak home-buying season, it may take nearly a week to schedule busy home inspectors, so by the time buyers get their report, the sellers are getting impatient for a final say-so and little time remains to arrange for specialist contractors to come out and provide qualified opinions related to your home inspectors Red Flag areas.

To boot, contractors have the same right and need as home inspectors to be compensated for providing their time and expertise. A recent home inspection contained vague and therefore discomforting references to termite damage and called for the expertise of a qualified structural engineer to provide any meaningful analysis. This scenario represents home inspector protocol and is pretty universal, but it is  also universally  vexing for buyers who are confronted with having to pay up to $400 to have an expert confirm or deny the unresolved suspicions which a home inspector is required to share for reasons:  ethical,  professional, and practical, so as to retain protection from future litigation.

The upshot is that your home inspection is Not Llikely to be the one-and-done, caveat emptor, buyer beware document which many buyers expect when investing about $600. Whether I am representing sellers or buyers, my main goal in every transaction is to remove mystery so value can be clearly assessed and negotiated. Unfortunately, many, if not most home inspections, wind up injecting more confusion than clarity into the decision whether to buy or not to buy - or what dollar credits are needed to compensate for flaws discovered during the inspection period.

In some best case scenarios, home inspectors will paint an overall picture of either health or general decrepitude, which will give a buyer the confidence to either make a final decision to accept or reject a house. But in the many cases where home inspections raise red flags and offer no clear determinations, home buyers must decide whether to take a leap of faith, or invest possibly hundreds of more dollars to have a qualified expert drop everything and come out stat to provide analysis. Sometimes a buyer can get expert opinions gratis, or with promises of the opinion fee counting towards any future services provided, but ultimately everything costs money, and budgeting an additional $500 toward post home inspection follow-ups is a prudent idea that more inspectors and agents should espouse.

Even if your home inspection is generally good and you know you'll still want to buy the house, in order to negotiate any credits for defects discovered post agreement of sale, a buyer is going to need written estimates from licensed contractors. Once again, home inspectors - even when they can point out an obvious defect - are loathe (or unable due to their guild's guidelines) to offer essential cost estimates. Depending on the complexity of an obvious repair, contractors may well have to be paid to come out stat and write up the bids that sellers will demand to see before considering credits. Again, time and money work against the buyer here.

The bottom line is that buyers' due diligence can be significantly more expensive and exhausting than the rote booking, attendance and review of a home inspection. To help take out some of the sting, we recommend the following steps:

1- Negotiate your best deal in the initial agreement of sale and expect the home inspection will turn up concerns, either real or ambiguous,that will consume hundreds if not thousands of dollars in repairs and/or expert opinions that may not meet with compensation from an unwilling seller.

2- Post agreement and prior to the home inspection, carefully review the sellers and disclosure and consider returning for  a pre-home inspection visit. You will very likely notice potential concerns about the house that you did not see when you were a potential buyer and not an active one. Review these concerns with your realtor and proactively identify contractors you might want to call in quickly following the primary home inspectors' visit. Also, ask your home inspector, point-blank about any concerns you have. Home Inspectors have to review alot of house in limited time and its amazing what can get overlooked in the process.

3- Stay close to your home inspector during the inspection and listen to what he or she has to say. Focus on the big picture and items that will cost into the thousands and not necessarily the hundreds to repair. Home inspectors have a lot of mandatory ground to cover and very busy schedules. There's only so much time available for information and discussion during the home inspection so use the time wisely. Judiciously, and with respect only to big-ticket items, press for information regarding costs and best worst/case scenarios that your inspector might part with verbally, but which won't make the written report for concern over potential litigation

Ultimately, your Home Inspection report is essentially an Owners Manual for understanding and maintaining the home you hope to buy. It is not - as is commonly misconstrued - a menu of repairs which you can present to a seller and it is not a thorough diagnostic document. Most of our homestock, which is in that 50-100 year old range, will continue to perform and will require each new owner to invest in some selected maintenance related to his/her link in the chain of ownership and stewardship. Eventually, when you sell the home in 15 years, you will utter the words, "It was that way when we bought it and we've never had a problem..."

From Carlinos to The Milkboy: Ardmore Housing Market is Nuanced and Eclectic, Classy and Funky

Like Milkboy Music/Coffee: Ardmore is Eclectic and Nuanced
One of the reasons I really like Ardmore is that it is supremely well located and it is emerging on many levels. Long talked about development of transit/retail center in downtown is approaching fruition and numerous business with a progressive vibe are choosing Ardmore and the word is spreading. Recent arrivals include Tired Hands Brew Pub at Ardmore/Lancaster Ave. and several places along Rittenhouse Place including Barbaco Peruvian grill. Multiple higher-end townhouse developments have sprung up and are springing up in Ardmore and nearby Haverford. Priced in the 500-600s, these new construction residences are emblematic of developers obvious confidence in the area, as well as a positive indicator regarding the direction of property values.

Granted, like most every community along the Main Line, Ardmore is eclectic and nuanced. There are high-end, upscale neighborhoods from 500k to one million, there are upper middle class neighborhoods with homes priced 300-500k, there middle/working class neighborhoods at 200-300k, and there is a lower valued section which includes some subsidized housing and 100-150k homes, many needing work and only about 1000 or so square feet in size.

In terms of Risk/Reward/Resale, the bottom line is that middle class Ardmore is a very stable and mature, area in a well-established dynamic location shoe-horned amongst two great public school districts, several fine private schools, colleges, parks, and a myriad of excellent shopping/dining/ transit options, all within 20 minutes of Center City Philadelphia. 

I believe Ardmore - primarily in the 150-350k range is a high quality of life, Low Risk home investment with average or above market resale rewards in the short term (4-7 years), as well as excellent potential for above average returns in the long term (8-12 years). Whether it's the highly desirable Lower Merion School District or the up and coming Haverford School District, Ardmore offers a relatively secure (crime is not unheard of), quality lifestyle that is in demand for families. Its proximity to culture, city and emerging nightlife will continue to see it attracting professionally-minded couples and singles.

Basically with Ardmore, you pick your price point and desired neighborhood. If you want to be a Mainline "gentrifying pioneer" and live in the relatively small under-income section of Ardmore, there are very well-priced opportunities. Due to the very low entry cost and position in Lower Merion township, the risks of not reselling at or above market returns is small. This is true thoughout the middle class options, as well.

What has yet to establish a track record are resale values of the higher-end new construction condos and townhouses. Two such developments - Ardmore Crossing (400k), which borders a lower income section of Ardmore, and Sibley Avenue's somewhat newer and upscale Cambridge Square (500-700k) by the Ardmore Farmers Market -have each seen significant reductions in value since pre-boom and boom levels. Nevertheless, I believe the continuing development of this market is evidence that demographics/plans/trends show there will be consumers to support this market. 
Whether your price point is a $150,000 row home, quaint $250,000 twin, $450,000 condo/single family home, or one of the newer $500,000 and up town-house options near Lancaster Avenue, I believe there is a tide rising in Ardmore which will lift property values at or above average for the Western suburbs of Philadelphia. 

New Homes Near Merion Golf Course Head March's Home Transaction Report for Haverford/Radnor Twps.

 Merion Golf Manor: New homes are just a chip shot to famed links
Two of these proposed new-construction homes in Merion Golf Manor (VPS Builders) sold in March for $850,000 and $860,000 respectively. Each mini-palace is 3,600 sq. ft, with 4-beds and 3.5 baths and situated on nearly 3/4-acre lots. Located by Darby and Golfview Roads, just a chip-shot  from the site of this year's U.S. Open golf tourney, these homes would likely fetch nearly $20,000 in rent for a week's stay during tournament-time in June.

March Homes Sold in Haverford and Radnor Townships listed for under One Million Dollars

Sold ForStreet AddressTownBedsBaths Sq. Ft.Orig Price
$255,000 2153 Chestnut AveArdmore311,326$260,000
$266,500 2152 Chestnut AveArdmore311,266$275,000
$334,900 672 Loraine StArdmore422,186$334,900
$685,000 33 Golfview RdArdmore42.22,600$699,900
$137,000 210 Landover RdBryn Mawr41.11,510$149,900
$212,000 945 Glenbrook AveBryn Mawr621,783$250,000
$275,000 900 Glenbrook AveBryn Mawr311,412$275,000
$290,000 114 Hickory LnBryn Mawr31.11,590$309,000
$323,500 118 Hickory LnBryn Mawr32.11,667$329,000
$355,000 690 S Bryn Mawr Bryn Mawr321,647$375,000
$375,000 254 Lee CirBryn Mawr322,200$379,000
$547,400 3708 Darby RdBryn Mawr42.12,510$575,000
$171,600 630 Haverford RdHaverford532,650$159,900
$255,000 613 Woodcrest AveHaverford31.21,432$250,000
$382,500 153 Allgates Dr 4Haverford32.11,469$385,000
$547,500 14 Fawn LnHaverford32.12,275$575,000
$657,500 626 Haydock LnHaverford42.12,909$675,000
$140,000 1426 Johnson RdHavertown321,276$199,900
$181,000 1806 Earlington RdHavertown321,526$199,900
$198,000 169 Woodbine RdHavertown311,280$214,900
$200,000 431 Olympic AveHavertown311,350$210,000
$225,000 1192 Steel RdHavertown421,260$234,900
$230,000 118 Earlington RdHavertown31.11,596$229,900
$232,500 42 Brookline BlvdHavertown53.12,838$249,900
$247,000 213 Glen Arbor RdHavertown31.11,292$247,500
$254,500 22 Walnut Hill LnHavertown32.11,945$264,900
$256,500 100 E Eagle RdHavertown33.11,560$259,900
$291,000 1301 Steel RdHavertown32.12,248$289,000
$300,000 2007 Winton AveHavertown32.12,172$320,000
$303,500 245 Campbell AveHavertown321,418$309,900
$309,000 1 Thompson DrHavertown41.11,718$309,000
$382,500 2508 W Darby RdHavertown42.22,369$397,500
$424,000 37 Woodcroft RdHavertown32.11,768$439,000
$475,000 12 E Mercer AveHavertown42.12,700$489,900
$850,000 3005 Hermosa Lot2Havertown43.13,614$854,900
$860,000 12 W Golf View Lot4Havertown43.13,614$875,000
$575,000 709 Governor CirNewtown Sq42.13,168$599,000
$374,000 200 Berwind RdRadnor321,761$435,000
$820,000 265 Upper Gulph RdRadnor54.12822$849,900
$755,000 15 Villanova RdVillanova42.13,374$779,000
$257,500 302 Pennsylvania Wayne311,050$257,500
$291,000 2 Marlyn CirWayne311,246$280,000
$430,000 7 Rockland CirWayne31.11,712$435,000
$433,000 409 S Devon AveWayne42.11,719$439,000
$325,000 1007 Remington RdWynnewood31.22,032$330,000
$495,000 712 Powder Mill LnWynnewood43.13,223$475,000