Survey: Villanova Tops for Green Homes for Sale

A national survey finds 57 percent of homes listed for sale in the Main Line community tout green features, a higher ratio than anywhere else in the country.

Masonry homes dominate the Main Line the way brick rowhomes dominate Philadelphia. Both are excellent candidates for green retrofitting, which helps explain why this area has such a high number of homes with green features on the market.

Masonry homes dominate the Main Line the way brick rowhomes dominate Philadelphia. Both are excellent candidates for green retrofitting, which helps explain why this area has such a high number of homes with green features on the market.

Maybe homeowners hereabouts want to emulate the Eagles. Or maybe it’s because investments in green features pay off when it’s time to sell. Whatever the reason, Philadelphia-area homeowners love to trim their homes with green.

Especially on the Main Line. When Redfin, the Seattle-based online brokerage, surveyed listings of homes for sale in the markets where it operates across the country, it found that 57 percent of all the homes listed for sale in Villanova touted energy-saving or environmentally friendly features in their listings.

That was enough to earn the community the top spot on Redfin’s list of “The Top 10 Neighborhoods for Green Homes.”

Redfin looked for listings where homes were described using terms such as “LEED,” “Energy Star,” “solar,” “energy-efficient,” “green built,” and the like.

It turns out that these green homes are golden for their owners: the median sale price for homes with green features was $33,894 above the median for all homes in the cities Redfin surveyed.

But what makes Main Line homes greener than others elsewhere? Tom Lewis, Redfin’s Philadelphia market manager, says it’s the way they’re built.

“It seems that on the Main Line especially, there are a lot of older homes that are conducive to retrofitting with today’s green technology,” he said. “You see a lot of brick and stone homes that have great bones to work with, and you can make these more energy-efficient.”

Like his own. “I live in a home that’s built of brick with cinderblock. In the summer, when it gets hot, my home doesn’t heat up as quickly as newer homes on the block. Thus putting in double-pane windows or extra insulation makes a bigger difference” in energy savings for these homes.

“In a lot of cases, the older buildings in our region are great candidates for retrofitting,” said Alex Dews, executive director of the Delaware Valley Green Building Council. “They’ll last a couple hundred years more, they’ll be more comfortable to live in and more efficient inside.”

Which points to another green axiom: “The greenest building is one that’s already been built.” “There’s a lot of energy” already spent in the materials that went into the building, Dews noted, and adding energy- and water-saving features makes them even more cost-effective to own.

Lewis also noted that Main Line residents can more easily afford the improvements that make a home green. For instance, he said, a tankless water heater costs three to three and a half times what a regular one costs. However, rebates and credits can lower those costs.

Yet what applies to the Main Line is true for the city as well: last year, when Redfin did a similar survey of listings in city neighborhoods, Philadelphia topped that list, with one-third of homes for sale over the previous 12 months boasting green features. Redfin noted then that green homes in West Philadelphia’s Squirrel Hill section had median sale prices 45 percent higher than their non-green counterparts.

The same attributes that make Main Line homes such good candidates for green upgrades apply in the city as well: most of the homes are older and of masonry construction. “There’s also a lot of energy efficiency in the shared walls of Philadelphia row homes,” said Dews.

Redfin’s national top 10 list uses selected neighborhoods to represent clusters of similar neighborhoods in their areas and was chosen to reflect geographic diversity, according to Redfin spokesperson Alina Ptaszynski. For example, half of the top 10 Philadelphia neighborhoods for green-home listings are on the Main Line, and all 10 are in Redfin’s national top 100.

Here are the top 10 Philadelphia-area neighborhoods for green home listings this year, according to Redfin, with the percentage of homes listed with green features:

  1. Villanova (Radnor Township), 57%
  2. Chestnut Hill, 55%
  3. Merion Station, 54%
  4. Gladwyne, 48%
  5. (tie) Manayunk, 48%
  6. Elkins Park, 46%
  7. (tie) Queen Village-Pennsport, 46%
  8. Bryn Mawr, 45%
  9. (tie) Ardmore, 45%
  10. Jenkintown, 43%

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