What $500K Will Buy You in Phoenixville

606 Cherry Lane, Phoenixville, Pa. 19460 | Image via Century 21 Norris – Valley Forge

If you haven’t heard yet, Phoenixville is yet another of those old Schuylkill mill towns that’s enjoying a renaissance. New apartment buildings are popping up all over, luring younger residents into the borough. We expect the crowd at next year’s Blobfest to be even bigger than this year’s as a result.

But homes in the borough remain modest and modestly priced. Just outside it, however, are a bunch of very attractive houses, several of them, including two of our picks, in a subdivision just across the river from downtown. But before we get to those, we have a one-of-a-kind “fixer-upper” for you to consider. Read more »

Jawdropper of the Week: A Summer Palace in Longport for $6.999M

“Fortress Point,” 117 S. 17th Ave., Longport, N.J. 08403 | Images via Dorothy & Company – BHHS Fox & Roach Realtors

And here we’d thought we’d seen everything when we came across the tale of the “Little Marble House” in Avalon.

Now comes this absolutely spectacular sprawling home in Longport to show us that we haven’t seen anything yet.

Like that Avalon home, this one uses a most un-Jersey-Shore architectural vocabulary, clad as it is in brick and brownstone and festooned with pediments and carvings, a bit of the Gilded Age transported to our time.

And yet…its layout and massing bespeak a certain Jerseyness. (Don’t see it? Close your eyes and imagine this home with wood railings and trim and way more shingles.) Read more »

Scofflaw Developers Continue to Build on City-Owned Land

The collapse of a building being demolished in 2013 that destroyed a Salvation Army thrift store triggered stepped-up city efforts to crack down on rogue developers. Those efforts have been less than effective, a new investigation reveals. | Photo: Sandy Smith via PhillyLiving.com, 2013

If you want to acquire city-owned land for your development, you should have all your permitting, licensing and tax-compliance ducks in a row.

At least, that’s how things are supposed to work. But the reality is different.

Instead, city efforts to catch development scofflaws have used a net that’s as full of holes as Swiss cheese — holes big enough for rogue builders to swim right through. Read more »

First-Time Find: Something Extra in Levittown for $295K

64 Elderberry Dr., Levittown, Pa. 19054 | TREND images via Century 21 Veterans

Levittown may have been mass-produced in the 1950s, but the people who bought those mass-produced homes have exhibited a knack for customizing them over the decades since.

This expanded and updated home is an outstanding example of what those customizers did. You may be able to pick out the original ranch house model that morphed into this sprawling two-story beauty, but any resemblance between this home and the original is purely coincidental. Read more »

These Are The 10 Most Affordable Homes in Fairmount

Fairmount’s four most affordable homes for sale right now are all inside this handsome Art Deco building. | TREND image via LYL Realty Group

Our tour of homes with cool prices in hot neighborhoods lands in Fairmount this week.

This rejeuvenated neighborhood just to the north of the Parkway and Art Museum boasts an eclectic dining scene, many attractive little residential streets, Eastern State Penitentiary for a neighbor and one of the country’s greatest urban parks at its front doorstep. (Speaking of steps, there are also the ones Rocky climbed up to the Art Museum entrance as well. If you settle here, you should pay the museum a visit.)

The people at NeighborhoodX did their database mining and found these ten properties were the least expensive currently on the market. Read more »

Trinity Tuesday: Extra Style in Wash West for $530K

316 S. Clarion St., Philadelphia, Pa. 19107 | TREND images via Keller Williams Center City Realty

The “little streets” of Washington Square West are among the most beloved residential streets in Philadelphia. Many of them are lined with those equally beloved (to some) houses known as trinities.

This trinity on a dead-end lane in Wash West represents the perfect marriage of little street and house type. Actually, if such a thing is possible, it may actually go beyond perfect.

That’s because the owners of this expanded trinity have turned it into an actual three-bedroom home with the sort of amenities usually found in larger spaces. Read more »

Prep School Head Warns Parents Away From High School Rankings

St. Joseph’s Prep in North Philly traditionally ranks highly among private and Catholic high schools. Its president says parents considering high schools for their children shouldn’t go strictly by those numbers, though. | Public domain image from Wikimedia Commons

As back-to-school time approaches, parents considering private high school for their children anxiously search the web for information about their options, including rankings of schools from publications like Barron’s and U.S. News & World Report or websites like Niche.com. Families looking to buy homes do the same thing with rankings of public high schools, and real estate sites like this one gladly feed their anxiety by publicizing the results.

The president of St. Joseph’s Prep School in North Philadelphia has some words of advice for these parents and families: Don’t believe the hype. Read more »

A Home With Character(s) in Wyndmoor for $4.25M

“Ropsley,” 8745-65 Montgomery Ave., Wyndmoor, Pa. 19038 | Photos: Herb Engelsberg and Michael Brock via The Sivel Group

The homes that Philadelphia’s “new money” built in Cheltenham Township were generally built to impress, none more so than the over-the-top and still-on-the-market Lynnewood Hall. And there were some very famous names associated with these mansions: Elkins. Widener. Wanamaker. Curtis. Stetson. Stotesbury. Cooke. (Yes, railroad tycoon Jay Cooke built a home in the township.)

This picturesque estate in the Wyndmoor section is far less opulent than Lynnewood Hall, but it has an informal elegance that makes it no less impressive. It also has a couple of illustrious names associated with it: McIlhenny and Poe. Read more »

Who’s Building Philly: Sean Schellenger

Schellenger on the roof deck of one of his recently completed homes in Point Breeze. | Photos: Sandy Smith

Developing property in Philadelphia resembles running an obstacle course. There are numerous permits a builder must receive in order to start even a project that can be built by right. And if a zoning variance is required, the builder needs to jump through several more hoops involving community groups and a zoning review board.

When Sean Schellenger decided to go into the development business, he knew that the key to his success would be to create a system where he could build a large number of homes in a short period of time. So he sought to streamline the whole process from initial land purchase to turning over the keys. The business he formed to do all this is called — what else? — Streamline Solutions. Read more »

Philly-Area High Schools Dominate Niche’s 2018 State Rankings

Conestoga High School in the Tredyffrin-Easttown School District | Google Street View image

Niche.com has just released its 2018 rankings of the top public high schools in Pennsylvania and the nation, and once again, Conestoga High School in Berwyn took top honors.

In addition, four Philly-area high schools on last year’s top 10 list are on it again this year: Harriton and Lower Merion in the Lower Merion School District, Unionville in Unionville-Chadds Ford and Julia Reynolds Masterman in the School District of Philadelphia. But this year, the region’s schools were a little more dominant than they were last year: eight of the top 10 are in Southeastern Pennsylvania, an increase of one from last year, and the returning champions played a game of musical chairs. Read more »

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