What $500K Will Buy You in Chestnut Hill

Surprise! It will buy you something. But with one exception, you'll need to do some work after spending the $500K.

31 W. Bells Mill Rd., Philadelphia, Pa. 19118 | Bright MLS image via Higgins & Welch Real Estate

You may recall that recent report a consortium of Chestnut Hill institutions produced that showed, among other things, that homes in Chestnut Hill sell for 136 percent more than the Philadelphia average.

Given that, one might reasonably conclude that there isn’t much of a middle to the Chestnut Hill residential real estate market.

Our $500K Friday survey bears out that conclusion: there was only one move-in ready property for sale in that price range.  On the other hand, there are some decent deals for a more upscale buyer willing to do some work on a property.

Like, say, build an entire house on it.

31 W. Bells Mill Rd. (above) | 1.13 acres, $499,000

Instead of looking for the home of your dreams, why not create it? This lot located between the Morris Arboretum and the Wissahickon Valley offers you that opportunity. If you’re a nature lover, few lots within the Philadelphia city limits offer such abundant access to it – this lot abuts the Wissahickon Valley section of Fairmount Park, and the Orange Trail and Forbidden Drive cross Bells Mill Road just down the block from you. This parcel was part of the Morris family estate, and your neighbors live in homes that range in size from 3,000 to more than 7,200 square feet on lots from 0.12 to more than three acres. Resale prices, furthermore, have topped $2 million, so the home you create for yourself on this lot may reward you handsomely down the road.

31 W. Bells Mill Rd., Philadelphia, Pa. 19118 [Edward Welch | Higgins & Welch Real Estate via Zillow]

TREND image via BHHS Fox & Roach Realtors

120 E. Chestnut Hill Ave. | 4 beds, 2 full, 1 half baths, 2,255 square feet, $525,ooo

This mansard-roofed turn-of-the-last-century classic, built in 1905 for the Dwyer family, has gotten a most appealing makeover. The refresh gives the main floor a semi-open floor plan, with the living and dining rooms separated only by a partial wall. The kitchen remains a distinct space that’s been brought up to modern speed, and behind it is a sunny family room with skylights, a brick fireplace and an exposed brick wall. The bathrooms on each floor have likewise been updated, and the four bedrooms have ample closet space (and built-in bookshelves in some). As for location, you couldn’t ask for a more convenient one: the top of the Hill and the Germantown Avenue shopping district are a little more than a block away, and you’re right across the street from the end of the Chestnut Hill East Regional Rail line.

This home’s sale price has been reduced twice: by $35,000 on Jan. 8 and by $20,000 on Feb. 10.

120 E. Chestnut Hill Ave., Philadelphia, Pa. 19118 [Ellen Goodwin | BHHS Fox & Roach Realtors]

Google Street View image, June 2014

131 W. Northwestern Ave. | 3 beds, 2 baths, 1,215 square feet, $519,000

This fixer-upper is actually across the street from Chestnut Hill in Whitemarsh Township, but its address is in the Hill’s zip code, and it’s on Northwestern Avenue, so it counts. Horse lovers should fall for this 1970s rancher across from the Northwestern Stables in Fairmount Park, just up the road from the end of Forbidden Drive. In fact, you could set up your own stables on this property, as it has a barn that holds six horses with boarding potential. The ranch house itself needs a little work to bring it back up to snuff, but the agent’s listing says the “location warrants a full remodel.” Call your architect and designer and get your checkbook ready.

131 W. Northwestern Ave., Flourtown, Pa. 19118 [Brian Stetler | BHHS Fox & Roach Realtors]