How to Find the Perfect House in Philadelphia

Whether you’re in the market for an urban loft or a sprawling farmhouse, we’ve got the places where you’ll find them, the prices you’ll pay, and the perks (and drawbacks) you’ll want to keep in mind. Happy hunting!

First appeared in the March, 2014 issue of Philadelphia magazine.

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CENTER-HALL COLONIAL

THE LURE: “The colonials are simply indigenous to our area, and it’s the style that most buyers are attracted to,” says Coldwell Banker Preferred Blue Bell’s Nicole Miller-Desantis. “Buyers know they’ll ultimately have resale value.”

KEEP IN MIND: On the Main Line, these houses can have hidden expenses: lot premiums, high utilities, spring and fall landscaping costs. “It can be expensive to ‘live the dream’ in suburbia,” Miller-Desantis warns.

WHERE TO LOOK: Main Line, Gwynedd Valley, Blue Bell.




EXPECT TO PAY: $500,000 to $1 million-plus.

On the market: A 6BR, 5.5BA in Chestnut Hill, $1.975 million. Contact: Linda Baron, Berkshire Hathaway Home Services Fox & Roach, 215-619-2344.

Next: The Loft

Home_Design_Sidebar_02LOFT

THE LURE: High ceilings, large windows, a wide-open industrial feel, exposed ductwork, exposed brick, exposed everything.

KEEP IN MIND: A lack of interior walls can be tricky: “If it hasn’t been divided up, it’s sort of hard to conceptualize rooms,” cautions Holly Mack-Ward, of Holly Mack-Ward & Co. at Coldwell Banker Preferred. “If you’re not design-
oriented, you might need some professional assistance in dividing the space into a home.”

WHERE TO LOOK: Old City, Northern Liberties, Chinatown, Callowhill, Kensington.

EXPECT TO PAY: $300,000 to $500,000.

On the market: A 3BR, 2BA on 13th Street, $719,000. Contact: Jesse Barnes, Coldwell Banker Preferred Avenue of the Arts Office, 215-546-2700.

Next: The Farmhouse

Home_Design_Sidebar_03FARMHOUSE

THE LURE: “The materials—wood and stone—are authentic. It’s usually been around for 100 or 200 years. Aesthetically, they’re so beautiful,” says Kevin Steiger, of Kurfiss Sotheby’s International Realty, based in New Hope. “Now, it’s what everyone’s trying to duplicate.”

KEEP IN MIND: Rooms are smaller, ceilings are lower, homes are often close to the road, and air conditioning can get expensive.

WHERE TO LOOK: New Hope, Yardley, Newtown, Chester County.

EXPECT TO PAY: From a few hundred thousand to a few million dollars, depending on the age and condition of the home.

On the market: A 5BR, 3.5BA in central Bucks County, $1.095 million. Contact: Adam Shapiro, Weidel Realtors, 215-862-3542.

Next: The Mid-Century Modern

Home_Design_Sidebar_04MID-CENTURY MODERN

THE LURE: Glass walls, streamlined interior, open floor plan, a singular, unmistakable aesthetic.

KEEP IN MIND: “Some mid-century modern homes in the area have their main entrance in the rear and the main entertaining spaces facing the street,” says Philadelphia-based Berkshire Hathaway realtor Craig Wakefield, who specializes in modern homes.

WHERE TO LOOK: Chestnut Hill and Montgomery, Chester, Delaware and Bucks counties.

EXPECT TO PAY: From $350,000 to well over a million, with a majority between $500,000 and $800,000.

On the market: A 4BR, 3.5BA home in mid-century modern style in East Falls, for rent, $6,000 per month. Contact: Craig Wakefield, Berkshire Hathaway Home Services Fox & Roach, 267-973-9567.

Next: The Brownstone

Home_Design_Sidebar_05BROWNSTONE

THE LURE: High ceilings, original fixtures, fireplaces, ample square footage.

KEEP IN MIND: “You’ll be doing a lot of repair,” says realtor Dominic Fuscia, in Coldwell Banker Preferred’s Old City office. “Many don’t have central air, and if you’re going to add modern features, there’s a cost to that.”

WHERE TO LOOK: Society Hill, Rittenhouse, Art Museum/Fairmount.

EXPECT TO PAY: In Fairmount, $450,000 to $800,000; in Rittenhouse, $800,000 up to $3 million.

On the market: A 2BR, 2BA condo unit in a Center City brownstone, $875,000. Contact: Michael McCann, Berkshire Hathaway Home Services Fox & Roach, 215-440-8345.

Next: The Victorian

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VICTORIAN

THE LURE: Extensive woodwork; period features like chair rails and moldings. Many have wrap-around porches or are semi-attached twins.

KEEP IN MIND: Jeff Block of the City Block Team/Berkshire Hathaway in Center City advises that omnipresent dark wood can “make the home seem like it has less light.”

WHERE TO LOOK: West Philadelphia, Mount Airy, Haddonfield, Cape May.

EXPECT TO PAY: $300,000 to $750,000-plus.

On the market: A 6BR, 3BA Victorian in Haddonfield, $659,000. Contact: John Kennedy, Coldwell Banker Preferred Haddonfield Office, 856-685-5600, ext. 5627.

Next: The Historic Townhome

Home_Design_Sidebar_08HISTORIC TOWNHOME

THE LURE: They’re Philadelphia classics. “People like them because of features like traditional crown moldings, pine floors, marble or detailed oak fireplace mantels and wide baseboards,” says blockbuster realtor Mike McCann. “Many times the exterior will have the historical or restored working shutters, flower boxes, brick sidewalks and a lamppost.”

KEEP IN MIND: These homes are old—so­metimes hundreds of years old—so there may not be central air, electric wiring may be out of date, and there may still be lead-based paint. And any exterior changes must be approved by the historical commission.

WHERE TO LOOK: Society Hill, Washington Square West, Rittenhouse Square, Queen Village, Art Museum.

EXPECT TO PAY: In Center City, $600,000 to $1.2 million.

On the market: A 4BR, 3.5BA townhome in Society Hill, $2.8 million. Contact: Frank DeFazio, Center City Team, Berkshire Hathaway Home Services Fox & Roach, 215-521-1623.

Next: The Urban Condo

 

Home_Design_Sidebar_07URBAN CONDO

THE LURE: Philly Living broker Noah Ostroff, who specializes in Center City and surrounding neighborhoods, points to amenities such as a doorman, a gym, a spa, a roof deck and valet service. “There are buildings that go as far as having private wine lockers,” he says.

KEEP IN MIND: There will be condo fees, and depending on square footage and amenities, they can be steep—the monthly fee for a unit at tony 10 Rittenhouse, for instance, is likely to be more than $2,000. And you can’t build out—only up. Neighborhoods with condos also tend to be dense.

WHERE TO LOOK: Rittenhouse Square, Center City, Old City, Society Hill.

EXPECT TO PAY: In Center City, around $400 per square foot.

On the market: A 2BR, 3BA penthouse at the Murano, 21st and Market streets, $1.9 million. Contact: Joanne Davidow, Berkshire Hathaway Home Services Fox & Roach, 215-790-5656.

Click here to return to the full Amazing Spaces article from the March issue of Philadelphia magazine.

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  • kimada

    The “colonial” house in Chestnut Hill that is pictured is really great, I love it, but it’s about as un-colonial a colonial as you could get. The architecture is probably something along the lines of regency with that metal roof (looks like it anyway) and the construction around the door, not to mention the windows. Which is to be expected in Chestnut Hill where architecture is (and apparently always has been) taken seriously, or at least just serious enough to avoid being cliched.