Realtor Q&A: Savvy Home-Buying Strategies to Implement in South Philly
It’s official: South Philadelphia is where it’s at for on-the-market homebuyers. (We promise we’re not being hyperbolic, either.) Thanks to its impressive walkability and wide array of neighborhoods, which range from up-and-coming Point Breeze and already-bustling East Passyunk, South Philly rightfully deserves the attention of homebuyers. The only challenge? Narrowing the scope.
To help with this, we consulted three local Coldwell Banker Preferred affiliated sales associates to weigh in. Here, they give us their top tips.
What’s the average price range for residences in South Philadelphia?
Todd Miller: South of Washington, that encompasses Point Breeze and Passyunk—all the way down to the stadium, you can buy new construction there anywhere from $350,000 to $550,000. You can buy renovated houses from $250,000 to $325,000.
Who is moving to South Philadelphia? Is there a general demographic?
Margaret DelColle: [We] see people coming into the city from Brooklyn, and they start by renting and then they talk about being able to buy a house. We’re also seeing people coming from other parts of the country—singles, married couples. [There are] people who are in the suburbs and come downtown to socialize and they see what’s going on in this city, which is unbelievable, and they want to be here and not make that commute from the suburbs.
Nick Giganti: The majority of people are moving to South Philly that I work with and see around are definitely younger individuals, mostly between 25 and 40 years old. There are a lot of people who are in grad school, undergrad or are young professionals.
Miller: Yeah, for sure. Again, it depends on the neighborhood. The millennials love South Philly and there are a couple reasons. You’re still within walking distance to Center City, so that’s appealing. Each neighborhood offers a little bit to somebody. In Passyunk, you have the quaint restaurants. You can go really south and get the Irish and Italian neighborhoods. There are a lot of millennials there. I’ve even seen people coming from the suburbs, empty nesters—and I’ve helped a few. They want to be a part of the city, but want to keep the suburban feel that South Philly has. Those are the two biggest demographics.
How should potential homebuyers approach the house hunt in South Philadelphia?
DelColle: I absolutely have a strategy. South Philadelphia is so big and so different. [It] has different neighborhoods. In the beginning when people don’t know where they want to be, I tell them to socialize in all of the neighborhoods. Take a ride, go on the transit, and get in your car or on your bike and go around the neighborhood. Grab something to eat or get a coffee and talk to the people and look at the houses. Get a feel for which neighborhood excites you and makes you feel comfortable.
Giganti: I would say when I bought my first house or when anyone is buying their first house, do your due diligence around the area. Look into what kinds of projects are coming to the area. When you become interested in one particular house, and you’ve gone there with your agent and taken a walk through the property, you should visit the property again at various times in the day and see what the energy of the neighborhood is like. [That way,] when you buy that home, you’re comfortable with your purchase.
What kinds and styles of residences should homebuyers expect? Are there any compromises buyers may need to make?
Miller: Your standard South Philadelphia house is a rowhouse with 2-3 bedrooms and 1-1.5 bathrooms with an unfinished basement. If you’re comfortable with that, you have your pick of the litter. If you’re looking for big amenities like parking and roof decks, those things tend to be more modern houses.
I’m sure transportation is a huge draw.
Giganti: I always say the location of South Philly is awesome. You’re around everything. Center City is just north, East Passyunk is Eest, the stadiums are to the south, and then if you go over the bridge, you’re in University City within a couple minutes. I think the location has been a catalyst.
Which regions do you suggest to homebuyers?
DelColle: [First I ask:] where they work, what are their interests. If they don’t have a car, and they’re interested in restaurants and going out, then [I suggest] near Passyunk Square and they don’t have to worry about parking. If they love nature, then I’d say Pennsport and be close to all the new parks.
Miller: The best of South Philly, in my personal opinion, in Passyunk Avenue. You can’t get a bad meal there. There are adorable boutiques. But, if you go down to 2nd Street in Queen Village, there are a ton of coffee shops, a few new bars. You don’t necessarily need to be in Passyunk. My favorite stuff—and I see this a lot with buyers—is the hidden gems that most people don’t know about.
Are there pockets/streets beyond the main drags that homebuyers should consider?
Miller: Look at a neighborhood like Passyunk, it’s never going to be bad. It’s so good. The people are wonderful and the restaurants are great, but home prices are becoming more expensive for the average first-time homebuyer. The next logical thing to do is to go a little south. Go closer to the river and Queen Village is amazing and there are a lot of great things to do. The next logical spot is Pennsport, and they’re through the roof with their home values right now.
What might people not know about South Philadelphia?
DelColle: South Philadelphia is very aggressively planting trees. I started Pennsport Tree Tenders in my neighborhood. The first year, we planted 14 trees on our street, just our block alone. We’ve planted over 100 trees. I know LoMo (Lower Moyamensing) has Tree Tenders and Passyunk Square has it [too].
Do you have any tips about getting the most bang for your buck in South Philadelphia?
Giganti: I will say first and foremost: get a good real estate agent. I don’t think it’s taken into consideration enough. Find someone that knows the area and knows how to negotiate. [Secondly,] you have to look for properties that might be just beyond where the construction is going on. Because Philly changes very quickly from block to block, you may very well find something that’s just a block off the main beaten path, that’s dramatically less in price. If you’re willing to wait it out for just a couple years, you will see your property appreciate.
For more information about buying or selling a home in the communities of the Greater Philadelphia area and the Delaware Valley, including southern New Jersey and northern Delaware, visit Coldwell Banker Preferred online at www.ColdwellBankerHomes.com
These interviews have been condensed and edited for length.This is a paid partnership between Coldwell Banker Preferred and Philadelphia Magazine's City/Studio