For Sale/Rent

These Are The 10 Most Affordable Homes in Old City

Lovers of exposed brick will find lots to choose from in the land of the loft condominium. (Don't forget to factor in the condo fees.)

This “upside down” condo on Arch Street in Old City has an unusual feature: A hatch in the floor that opens, allowing you to get your bulky furniture up to the living room without having to wrestle with it. | TREND image via Long & Foster Real Estate

Old City, where Philly began, may well be the closest neighborhood we have to those funky Manhattan districts like SoHo in architecture and appearance, thanks to the abundance of early to mid-19th-century warehouses, factories and commercial buildings in the neighborhood.

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Just about all of them have been converted into loft condominiums. Condos account for all 10 of the least-expensive homes currently on the market in Old City, and all but two of them are either genuine lofts or have loft-like features.

What’s more, they’re among the most affordable homes offered in any Center City neighborhood. You can get in on the ground floor of homeownership here — okay, the second floor of the Wireworks, one of those converted factory buildings — for just $195,000. The most expensive home of the bunch is a mere $55,000 more. ($54,900, if we’re going to be technical about it.)

“Pricewise, these properties range from $204 to $432 per square foot,” said Constantine Valhouli, director of research for NeighborhoodX.

The lowest-priced home in per-square-foot terms is quite a bargain: a 980-square-foot, one-bedroom bi-level condo in the Commons at New Street building that lists for $199,999, the second lowest sale price of the bunch.

But that’s before factoring in the condo fees. At $385 per month, the condo fee for this home is the highest of the bunch; the lowest fee is $211 per month for the fifth-cheapest unit, on the second floor of the Chestnut Lofts building.

Old City condos compare well with their soulmates in Society Hill to its south. The range of sale prices is a little narrower than in Society Hill and the range of prices per square foot is just a little bit lower.

What your money will buy you in Old City is exposed brick in most cases. You’ll also get that industrial-loft ambience as well, even in those units where the walls have all been covered with wallboard. What you might not get is granite countertops in the kitchen: it seems the owners here have been slow to cotton to that kitchen-design trend.

And as in Society Hill and Bella Vista, when evaluating how much home you can afford to buy here, be sure to add the monthly condo fees to your mortgage payment.


Sandy Smith Home and Real Estate Editor @MarketStEl
ssmith@phillymag.com