Category Archives: Home Buying Advice
Charming Swarthmore Borough Twin coming up in the $300,000 to $325,000 range!
I am very excited to be introducing this home to the public very soon! As the sellers make a few last-minute preparations, I get to have my fun teasing you here!
You know how this works – if you are the first to guess the address of this new listing I will buy you a one-year subscription to The Swarthmorean newspaper! You can post a reply on this page, or email your answer to firstname.lastname@example.org.
About a hundred years ago
This lovely home was built, although
You wouldn’t guess it by the master suite
Or the kitchen counter’s swank concrete!
A clue for those with a discerning eye,
Who might look up while passing by:
Have you seen this transom & portico arc
A block away from a wonderful park?
It was certainly an exciting spring in the Swarthmore market! Our “spring” season stretches from January through June. (Of course there will still be summer settlements of homes that went pending in the spring and those are not included here.)
Here is a rundown of how this spring played out:
The Swarthmore condo market:
There were 11 condo sales in Swarthmore Borough this spring. Of the 11 condo sales this spring, 3 sold at the listed price and 1 sold higher than the listed price. Our condos seem to be slowly but steadily making up the value losses they took in the recession years. As you can reference in my post about last year’s market here, condominiums took a bigger hit than the rest of our market in the downturn. Last year there was a run on condos and we ended up with a limited inventory. It’s great to see sellers marketing their condos again and buyers continuing to purchase them.
The Swarthmore single family home market:
There were 21 single family home sales in Swarthmore Borough this spring. Of the 21 single family home sales this spring, 5 sold at the listed price and 6 sold over the listed price. The theme of light inventory and robust buyer activity continued where last year left off. The multiple offer situations, particularly in the early part of the season were unprecedented. Two of the most noteworthy were my own listing at 510 Riveview Road which listed for $449,500 and sold for $477,500 with five offers and Heidi Foggo’s listing at 438 Riverview Road which listed for $934,900 and sold for $981,000 with multiple offers. Our own Becky Hansen brought the buyers! (Please see here for my blog post about the benefit of working with a local buyer agent who really knows the micro-market when entering a multiple offer scenario.)
I am proud to report that of the total 32 transactions, 16 sides were handled by D. Patrick Welsh agents! Our tiny boutique is comprised of just 10 local professionals. In context, the Suburban West Realtors Association that serves our area has 4,700 members.
Overall the market was robust and we’re seeing continued activity in spite of unusually hot and stormy weather.
If you are not working with an agent and would like to talk about buying or selling a home in town, please feel free to contact me!
Top 5 Reasons to Use a Swarthmore Realtor as a Buyer Agent
In recent months our Wallingford – Swarthmore real estate inventory has thinned and buyer traffic has increased dramatically. Most of the offers I have written/received on behalf of my clients in recent months have been the result of competing bids. I am glad to know the market well enough to advise clients in these situations! Here are the top five reasons for using a Swarthmore realtor in a competitive environment:
5) Preparation: Local agents are aware of the market norms for contingencies, timeframes, etc. My clients already have their mortgage pre-qualification in place before we begin home shopping. I can advise them on what constitutes a strong offer by local standards, and which terms can make their offer stand out, without costing them money. Preparation sometimes also consists of knowing about upcoming inventory before it hits the market. Again, a local agent will be informed and that means you will be among the first to see new inventory – a distinct advantage in this kind of market.
4) Agent recognition: In most real estate markets, a handful of agents are doing the lion’s share of the business, and our area is no different. The seller of your dream house will be advised by their listing agent on the merits of each offer that is received. When you enlist the help of an ethical, high performing buyer agent, you ensure that your offer will be viewed with respect from the other side. Your buyer agent may also know the listing agent’s preferences, which can allow us to handcraft terms that will help you get your house.
3) Knowledge of the sellers: Although it is certainly possible in our tiny market that your buyer agent will literally know your sellers, I mean this in a broader sense! As the owner of an older Swarthmore house myself, I know which things would concern me when selling my own house. I can use this knowledge to help you craft an offer that will appeal to your Swarthmore seller.
2) Inventory analysis: Although any agent can search the MLS for similar properties that sold over the last year, a Swarthmore agent will have seen each of those homes and will be able to let you know if their location and condition were actually similar to the house you are considering. The negative aspects of a home generally aren’t apparent from the marketing materials listed on the MLS! Knowing if anything truly similar was sold in the last year will help you determine whether there is likely to be another similar home on the market in the coming year. This information can help you decide how far you are willing to go to get a particular home under agreement.
1) Market Valuation: A dedicated local agent will know enough about recent sale prices and terms to help you understand the fair value of the home you are considering. In multiple offer situations knowing the highest fair price is extremely important. An agent who specializes will be able to help you determine a value ceiling.
We’re getting closer! The sellers have their very special home nearly ready for you to visit! While they add the finishing touches, I will keep teasing you with the details! The first to guess the address of this charming farmhouse on a magnificent double lot gets a one-year subscription to The Swarthmorean newspaper on me!
There’s not a single blue route sound,
Just the gentle rustle of,
The ancient copper beech above.
Come inside, relax a while
Hit the books farmhouse style
Built-in shelves hold every tome
Sit by the fire – welcome home!
Happy Valentine’s Day!!!!
The sellers of a very special Swarthmore farmhouse are preparing their home for showings! While they work, I am sharing clues with you! You know the routine – if you are the first to guess the address of this new listing I will buy you a one-year subscription to The Swarthmorean newspaper! Check here for Clue #1 , here for Clue #3 and here for Clue #4!
You’ll never guess from today’s clues,
But I had to share these baby blues!
(They’re penny tiles from the powder room floor,
Accessed by a pocket door!)
And one more treat for your viewing pleasure:
A special stair for secret treasure!
My belated Valentine to Swarthmore will be a very lovable farmhouse on a glorious lot in the $450,000 to $550,000 range!
I am very excited to introduce this home to the public next week. As the sellers make a few last-minute preparations, I get to have my fun teasing you here!
You know how this works – if you are the first to guess the address of this new listing I will buy you a one-year subscription to The Swarthmorean newspaper!
Today’s clue is a silly homage to Robert Frost (you can tell the snow has me a little stir-crazy)!
Whose farmhouse this is, do you think you know?
Peaceful but near the village, though,
To the swim club, school and train
It’s a picturesque walk (especially in the snow)!
Step in to see the heart of pine floor,
Fireplace and built-ins galore,
A screened porch, deck and patio,
And this welcoming wreath on the front door!
At this time of year I often find a little extra time to reflect on the market and look forward to what next year may bring. I’ve had my cup of tea and made a fun spreadsheet, here are my observations on our micro-market!
The biggest news…
This year Swarthmore had 14 sales of condos and we are down to only 3 active listings!
In 2011 our town had only 5 condominium sales. This was a shame, but not a surprise. In the preceding years our condos were hit hard by three separate events:
- The first was the development of the Plush Mills Senior Center. Prior to Plush Mills there were no hyper-local options for assisted living. Many seniors who would have purchased condominiums chose instead to move to Plush Mills. And many seniors already living in condos listed their properties to move there. This caused a swollen inventory, which ultimately affected prices.
- The second was the changing lending environment. For a time it was nearly impossible to obtain mortgage financing on a condominium. In the national environment many condo owners were living in half-built communities that went under because there were not enough owners paying dues to maintain the community. As a result mortgage criteria were changed nationally in ways that discouraged making mortgages on condominiums. That was a shame for markets, like ours, where there are established and thriving condominium communities.
- The third was the recession, which of course, had a profound effect on all real estate values.
As the economy improved and consumers became more confident in the real estate market, condo sales began to thaw. Although obtaining a mortgage on a condominium is still difficult, a few local banks have indicated a willingness to make loans. As the rental market heated up many condo owners even chose to rent their units for profit – eliminating the need to sell at a lower price. Between increased sales and some renting of units, the excess inventory appears to have been worked through at last! In 2011 there were only 5 sales of condos. Last year there were 20 sales. And this year we had 14 sales of condos and are down to only 3 active listings. This is a true break-through. Although prices are still down substantially from their heights, they are strengthening. It is gratifying to see this progress.
The big picture …
Our market has such a limited inventory that it can be hard to produce data with true statistical significance. Instead, here are a few observations that seemed to be in effect across the board:
– Fixer-uppers: After several years of sluggishness in the fixer market, 2013 was a strong year for fixers and for the re-sales that followed contractor renovations. A few examples of fixers that were snapped up quickly are the charming colonial at 18 Oberlin, the beautiful Thayer-built home at 215 Lafayette, and the solid colonial at 544 Westminster. All three were in desperate need of rescue inside and out. Three post-renovation beauties were the Arts & Crafts rethinking of 315 Dickinson Avenue, the open and sunny renovation of 340 Haverford Place and the clean restoration of 544 Westminster. Fixers in good locations with personality were all the rage this year and I expect this trend to continue into 2014.
– The $550,000 to $650,000 price point: Although there was healthy activity in the market in general this price point saw 10 sales in 2013. There were only 2 sales in 2012 and 2 in 2011 at this price point so it was nice to see a spike! In all, 15 of our 55 single family home sales were over $550,000 this year. This follows 10 out of 59, and 12 out of 51 in 2012 and 2011 respectively. (I do not mean to indicate that prices are rising at a swift rate. Rather, I note that inventory in this price range is popping up, and that buyers are ready to buy it when it does!)
– The prevailing theme: From the perspective of an agent on the ground, the resounding cry from my buyers was that we had a profound shortage of inventory. We never seem to have quite enough houses in Swarthmore for the number of people who would like to live here, and many buyers need to compromise on luxuries like master baths and Central Air! However this year was more painful than usual for buyers as many of them struggled to find a house through a spring market and into the summer. Like in the early 2000s, we are often rushing to see homes as soon as they pop up rather than waiting for a convenient weekend tour!
Thoughts for 2014…
Of course I don’t have a crystal ball! But here are my hopes and expectations for 2014. (These are just my opinions, don’t bet your farm on them, etc!)
– I hope that owners of single family homes who held back on listing their homes during the slow times will have the confidence to market their homes this spring.
– I expect that our “inventory” of buyers will continue to snap up well-priced single family homes with very short days-on-market.
– I hope that more condominium owners will choose to sell their properties rather than rent them indefinitely, now that the market is warming.
– I expect that condominiums in beautiful move-in condition will sell quickly. However, I believe that the fixer market for condos will continue to be sluggish through 2014.
– I hope that the Millennial Generation’s fondness for walkable communities will continue to bring Swarthmore an influx of excited new buyers who appreciate all that we have to offer.
– I expect that as more media attention is paid to Swarthmore for the above reasons, we will draw more buyers than ever who are new to the area. These buyers will need to learn about our older housing stock so that they have reasonable expectations!