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.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Lower Merion School District Enrollments and the Penn Alexander Catchment Property Bubble

Officials: Retrofitting LMHS can address future space issues
Despite major renovations in recent years, enrollment at Lower Merion's two high schools is projected to exceed capacity by 2019, if not sooner.. The prevailing option to handle the overflow is to develop and repurpose existing space in Lower Merion High School's old "A" building. Students who graduate from Welsh Valley Middle School - and who have typically been funnelled to Harriton High School - will get the option to choose Lower Merion High School in future years.

It is expected enough students will opt for LM and its enhanced capacity, so that no brand new construction will be required at either school. Ultimately, the lives of few are bound to be upended by this relatively featherweight redistricting. Both high schools are excellent and, if anything, the commutes of some students may even be slightly shortened by the opportunity to choose Ardmore over Rosemont.

But the situation bears watching. The expected surge in high-school population is already being felt at the
LMSD Enrollment Bulletins
elementary and middle school levels, and the School Board has already approved classroom expansion projects at Gladwyne, Penn Valley and Welsh Valley. Hopefully, affordable modifications of existing school facilities - not acrimonious redistricting - will continue to be a viable solution for enrollment expansion. As a parent, property owner and Realtor, confidence in  the quality and stability of our Lower Merion public schools is one of several core reasons to continue believing in our community's prosperity.

But just a few miles away in University City,  infatuation with high-quality, affordable public education  is exceeding sustainablility and has created a mini real estate bubble that may be about to pop. The Penn Alexander School - which serves public school grades K-8 in a Catchment Zone running (E-W) from 40th to 47th Streets and (N-S) from Sansom to (roughly) Baltimore Ave - opened in 2001 and receives substantial financial and institutional support from its prestigious neighbor, the University of Pennsylvania. In its decade-plus existence, the school has emerged as possibly the city's finest for its age group and has caused a clamor for home ownership within the boundaries of its catchment zone. It's estimated that $100,000 - $150,000 in value has been added to homes whose addresses qualify for attendance in the school.

Paying a premium for a home with a guaranteed spot in a great public school is one thing, but how much is it worth to NOT be guaranteed a slot, but only participation in a lottery to get a slot in the school? This is the question home-buyers and Realtors had to ask when school officials determined, in early 2013, that enrollment in Penn Alexander School was no longer a given right of property ownership within the catchment boundaries.

On one hand, the lottery system and statistics ostensibly ensure that nearly every child applying for admission will be accepted, but what of the family that spends an extra $125,000 and then draws the short stick and is left out? Very few kids/families will be affected, but the uncertainty is a harsh reality for those who paid, or are considering paying a premium to buy into the Penn Alexander School catchment.

In Lower Merion, our home values are also buttressed by the desirability of the quality of public education available to residents. We are fortunate to be in a more stable and sustainable position than our University City neighbors. But the time could come when too much love for our schools could actually start to erode, rather than enhance Lower Merion's charmed relationship between home values and quality education.

Click Here to view Lower Merion School District's Info Page on Enrollment Plans

May's Lower Merion Home Sales - Fast, Above Ask!

1205 Weymouth: Sold in 3 Days for $42,000 above Asking Price
Decent bones but a major updating overhaul was in order for this Wynnewood/Penn Wynne split-level, on Weymouth Rd. Located only a block from Manoa Park, it hit market at a very attractive price of $419,000 and incited a fast and fierce bidding war. When the dust settled, the winning bid was $455,000 and it was said buyers waived thier mortgage contingency... Of the 54 Lower Merion houses that sold in May for under a million, this was one 24 that went under contract in 10 days or less after  listing, and also one of the 14 homes that sold above ask price.

May 2013: Lower Merion Township Homes Sold under $1 Million, with Days on Market*

Sold ForStreet AddressTownBedBathSq FtListed ForMkt*
$360,000 124 Sutton RdArdmore31.11,640$379,900 10
$363,500 111 Simpson RdArdmore532,179$349,900 4
$470,000 506 E Spring AveArdmore32.12,128$459,900 2
$630,000 144 Sutton RdArdmore43.23,531$629,995 287
$762,500 217 Kent RdArdmore63.12,810$799,000 20
$205,000 310 Parsons AveBalaCynwyd411,836$239,900 237
$260,299 19 W Dartmouth RdBalaCynwyd52.12,711$290,000 3
$263,900 734 Consh. St Rd.BalaCynwyd31.11,360$259,900 5
$410,000 126 Ashland AveBalaCynwyd32.21,982$429,900 36
$414,000 110 Union AveBalaCynwyd32.11,715$425,000 7
$420,000 134 Cynwyd RdBalaCynwyd532,116$415,000 18
$500,000 125 David RdBalaCynwyd322,307$500,000 23
$519,000 126 Cynwyd RdBalaCynwyd52.11,760$519,000 5
$530,000 131 Ashland AveBalaCynwyd42.13,054$544,900 63
$540,000 107 Clwyd RdBalaCynwyd43.12,480$549,000 148
$635,662 135 Ashland AveBalaCynwyd42.13,054$544,900 102
$865,000 108 Cornell RdBalaCynwyd534,007$899,000 158
$950,000 95 W Levering Mill BalaCynwyd63.13,730$949,900 9
$260,000 1039 Rees AveBryn Mawr41.11,783$289,000 248
$879,000 1410 Orchard WayBryn Mawr43.12,698$879,000 10
$939,000 872 Roscommon RdBryn Mawr42.13,139$939,000 4
$264,000 858 Summit Grove BrynMawr42.11,390$269,000 7
$545,000 1201 Rose Glen RdGladwyne21.11,230$595,000 202
$850,000 1125 Club House Gladwyne43.24,854$869,000 7
$720,000 304 Mill Creek RdHaverford55.13,696$749,000 14
$387,000 15 Orchard RdMerion32.11,867$399,900 30
$535,000 233 1/2 Hamilton RdMerion42.22,356$549,000 32
$674,000 271 N Bowman AveMerion43.13,284$699,000 6
$556,000 501 Putnam RdMerion 43.12,392$549,000 8
$242,000 505 Homewood AveNarberth311,340$255,000 182
$263,000 504 Beechwood LnNarberth311,160$268,900 303
$320,000 39 Sabine AveNarberth311,169$325,000 4
$390,000 401 Dudley AveNarberth51.21,992$389,900 8
$520,000 135 Merion AveNarberth42.22,330$529,000 35
$532,000 3 Langdon LnNarberth42.12,200$519,900 3
$630,000 410 Grove PlNarberth52.13,200$710,000 55
$391,000 1244 Greentree LnPenn Valley432,473$375,000 10
$657,500 825 Bryn Mawr AvePenn Valley52.24,224$729,000 207
$110,000 2 Overbrook PkwyPennWynne42.12,317$120,000 1
$230,000 109 Rock Glen RdPennWynne311,224$244,900 27
$286,000 233 Harrogate RdPennWynne32.11,364$279,500 20
$295,000 1424 Greywall LnPennWynne31.21,588$298,500 12
$377,500 1523 Powder Mill LnPennWynne321,633$385,000 2
$502,000 109 Overbrook PkPennWynne42.12,293$499,000 5
$450,000 308 Saybrook RdVillanova33.12,971$500,000 323
$100,000 1447 Manoa RdWynnewood211,638$130,000 37
$455,000 1205 Weymouth RdWynnewood42.13,082$419,000 3
$575,000 223 Gypsy LnWynnewood54.12,974$589,000 36
$635,000 427 Ballytore CirWynnewood32.13,300$675,000 359
$635,100 318 Hathaway LnWynnewood532,784$635,000 4
$735,000 505 Foxglove LnWynnewood42.22,784$749,900 13
$750,000 267 Hathaway LnWynnewood63.12,714$799,000 60
$861,000 247 Hathaway LnWynnewood63.13,372$849,000 6

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